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The Pew Research Center has released a poll showing that 54 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder. That’s up from 49 percent two years ago. (As Kent Scheidegger has explained, this number understates opposition to abolishing the death penalty, but I’m focused here on the trend).
The death penalty has always had the support of a plurality of Americans. However, that support declined dramatically in the past 20 years. In 1996, 78 percent of Americans supported it compared to only 18 who opposed it. Today, the split is 54-39.
Pew - Poll - Support - Death - Penalty
But the latest Pew poll shows support for the death penalty to be increasing. This is consistent with a recent Gallup poll in which 62 percent of Americans viewed capital punishment as “morally acceptable.” A year earlier, 58 percent felt that way.
Pew found that the uptick in support for death penalty was driven by the views of independents. Most...
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