Americans’ support for the death penalty is now at 55 percent, the lowest number since 1972, according to a poll released by Gallup today.

The number “continues a trend toward diminished death penalty support as many states have issued moratoria on executions or abolished capital punishment,” Gallup says.

The poll shows that support among Democrats has been steadily decreasing for the past five years, with just 39 percent favoring it this year. Republicans, on the other hand, strongly support it, with 72 percent in favor in this poll. Gallup says Independents’ support, at 58 percent, is similar to the national average, “but has been lower the past three years than it was in most of the previous two decades.”

Not surprisingly, the opinions of those polled about the fairness and usage of the death penalty align with their support or opposition, so “the declines in recent years in the percentage of U.S. adults who say the death penalty is applied fairly or who are critical of how often it is used are largely related to the decline in basic death penalty support.”

Gallup has been surveying opinions on the death penalty since 1936, and says that support has generally been 60 percent or higher, but has dipped as low as 42 percent (1966), and as high as 80 percent (1994).


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