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Marylanders Support Retaining Death Penalty

Aaron Davis and Peyton Craighill report in the WaPo on a poll showing that Marylanders oppose repeal of the death penalty by 60-36. The poll results are here.

When the poll asked the question most polls have asked, "do you favor or oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder?" the result was 54-41.  However, when they asked the same people the actual question to be decided, "Which view is closer to your own, that Maryland law should allow for the death penalty or should the death penalty be abolished and replaced with life in prison with no chance of parole?" the result was 60-36.

This confirms, as we have noted several times on this blog, that the traditional poll question wording understates the actual support for the death penalty.  The question could be understood to ask about death for all murders, when the actual question is only whether that penalty should be available for the worst murders.

Fortunately, Maryland has a procedure to put the question on the ballot.  The people of Maryland, unlike the people of Connecticut, can overturn their legislators if they vote contrary to the wishes of the people.

Looking at the detailed view, we see that there is some variation by age, but not much.  The under-40 set has 39% in favor of repeal, 3% above the overall number.

There are significant differences by race, which is not surprising in light of how the race issue has been distorted.  (See my recent OSJCL article.)  Yet even among African-Americans, opposition to repeal is about the same as support for it (+1%, within the poll margin of error).

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