PUBLIC OPINION: 2012 Gallup Poll Shows Support for Death Penalty Remains Near 40-Year Low

A recent Gallup Poll measured Americans' abstract support for the death penalty at 63%, the second-lowest level of support for capital punishment since 1978, and a significant decline from 1994, when 80% of respondents were in favor of the death penalty. Gallup noted the results of the poll may have been affected by the fact that it was conducted a few days after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. In 2011 Gallup found 61% in support of the death penalty, the lowest level in 40 years. When Gallup and other polls offer respondents a choice of the proper punishment for murder--the death penalty or life in prison without parole--the public is nearly evenly split on the question. Among the groups most supportive of the death penalty in this latest Gallup poll were conservatives, Republicans, men, older respondents, and those with a high school or less education. The poll was conducted December 19-22, 2012. The margin of error was +4 percentage points.

(L. Saad, “U.S. Death Penalty Support Stable at 63%,” Gallup, January 9, 2013). See Public Opinion.