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Gallup Poll on Death Penalty

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Gallup is out with its annual poll on the death penalty.  The article is here, and the data are here.

On the question that comes closest to the actual issue to be decided, the poll is unchanged within the margin of error for the last six years.  That question is, "In your opinion, is the death penalty imposed -- [ROTATED: too often, about the right amount, or not often enough]?" 

In 2011, the answers were Too Often 25%, About Right 27%, and Not Enough 40%, which means that 67% favored current or greater application.  This year's numbers are 26, 26, and 39, respectively, well within the ±4% confidence interval.

The question Gallup has asked since 1936 is, "Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?"  The question is misleading as it asks about the death penalty for murder generally rather than just the worst murders.  So understood, I would answer that question "no" myself.  Gallup seems oblivious to the deficiency in this question, though, and regularly headlines the results in its reports.  This year's "favor" answer to that question is the lowest since March 1972 (before Furman v. Georgia), and that is the headline on their report.

At least 6% of the sample answered "not enough" or "about right" to the better question and "oppose" to the old one.  At least 15% of the sample answered "oppose" to the old question yet did not answer "too often" to the better one.  Clearly, interpreting an "oppose" answer to the old question as opposition to the death penalty in all murder cases is not correct.  Many respondents do not see it that way.

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"Illinois' 2000 moratorium on executions may have been the turning point in U.S. death penalty policy. ..
Since 2000, other states have followed suit with their own moratoria or have decided to abolish the death penalty entirely. Most of those states are Democratic-leaning"
[May you yet prevail in Cali, CFLF!]

Here we have it though: in these States, "take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.,"
(Num 35:31) is rejected in favor of,

"I do not believe that people are in jail because they deserve to be.
They are in jail simply because they cannot avoid it on account
of circumstances which are entirely beyond their control and
for which they are in no way responsible."
(C. Darrow, Cook County Jail, 1902)

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