Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Two-Thirds of Americans Support Death Penalty

Posted Oct 16, 2009 at 1:44 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup reports in its annual Crime Survey that 65% of Americans continue to support the use of the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, while 31% oppose it. These numbers continue a trend that has shown little change over the last six years. Gallup continues: "Gallup's death-penalty data stretch back more than seven decades -- making attitudes toward the death penalty one of Gallup's oldest trends. Gallup's earliest reading, in 1936, found that 59% of Americans supported the use of the death penalty in cases of murder, compared to 38% who opposed it. The all-time high level of 80% support came in September 1994, just before the midterm elections that swept Democrats out of power and at a time when Americans most often cited crime as the most important problem facing the nation. The low points came in the period of time from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s. During some of this time, the death penalty was illegal, and support dropped as low as 42% in 1966."