<< An Utterly Baseless Action by a Federal Public Defender | Main | The Consequences of Unseriousness >>

A Poll on the Real Death Penalty Question

A number of times on this blog, I have been critical of the way poll questions on the death penalty are worded.  See prior posts here, here, and here.  An internal poll taken for the folks who want to fix California's death penalty asked the question in a way that captures the real public policy question better than any I have seen:

Some people argue that the death penalty should be repealed because it is too complicated and rarely enforced. Regulations have cost taxpayers millions of dollars because inmates must be kept in separate cells, and the appeal process is long and costly. Life in prison will be cheaper for taxpayers.

Others say that we should keep the death penalty in California but reform it to reduce the number of frivolous appeals and lengthy delays. Death row prisoners should not get expensive special treatment, like private cells, and should be forced to work and make restitution to their victim's families. Instead of repealing the death penalty, we should fix the system so that it is enforced.

Which of these two views do you agree with more -- the first statement or the second statement?
The first statement is essentially the argument for Proposition 34, death penalty repeal, on last year's California ballot.  The second is the "mend it, don't end it" position.

First statement (repeal):   24%
Second statement (fix):    69%
Neither/both:                    6%
Don't know/refused:          1%

That is a staggering margin, close to triple.  It confirms my thesis that Prop. 34 got as close as it did only because the "mend it" alternative was not on the ballot.  Many of the 48% who voted yes on 34 would have preferred "mend it" if the choice had been there.

The "crosstabs" provide more striking results, showing the breadth of support for an effective death penalty:

Democrats:    33-58
Republicans:  10-84
Ind/Other:       26-70

18-29:            23-73
30-39:            33-63
40-49:            18-74
50-64:            26-68
65+:               21-71

Black:            17-83
White:            26-67
Hispanic:        16-78
Asian:            29-71
Other:            21-66

Some crosstab data need to be taken with a grain of salt due to limited sample size, but even so these results are breathtaking.  I am heartened by the breadth of support across age groups despite the relentless bias of American academia.  The youngsters appear to have survived the brain bath with some common sense intact.  Support is also strong across ethnic groups, despite the race-baiting of the mirror-image George Wallaces of our time.


Kent Scheidegger:

These are decisive figures, especially // Black: 17%-83% //,
but how would one cite the poll?

R. Adamakis

The poll is internal, and I only got permission to release the results on that one question, so there is no cite to the poll itself.

Again, the crosstabs involve small sample sizes and need to be viewed with caution.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives