In its survey of 1,291 American voters, the Quinnipiac Poll also asked several questions about the death penalty itself.
In response to the question, “Do you support or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?
The poll also reported opposition to the death penalty at 41%, the highest level in 45 years.
The last time Gallup reported higher opposition to the death penalty was 51 years ago, in May 1966, when 47% of respondents said they opposed capital punishment.
“It’s a mixed message on a question that has moral and religious implications,” said Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“Voters are perhaps saying, ‘Keep the death penalty, but just don’t use it.” (Most U. Voters Back Life Over Death Penalty, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Voters Back Anti-Gun March 2-1, But Say It Won't Work, Quinnipiac University Poll, March 22, 2018; Phillip Bump, Republicans oppose Trump’s death-penalty-for-dealers plan — and don’t think it would work, Washington Post, March 22, 2018; Max Greenwood, Most oppose Trump’s call for death penalty for drug dealers, The Hill, March 22, 2018.
Three-quarters of respondents (75%-20%-5%) said that using the death penalty for drug sales leading to overdose deaths will not help stop the opioid crisis.
Opposition was strong even from the President’s own party, as nearly three-fifths of Republicans (57%) both opposed the administration’s plan and thought it would not work.
Both polls reported that 56% of Americans support the death penalty.
That is the lowest level of support ever recorded by the CBS News poll, and near the lowest level reported by Pew in the last 40 years.
Support for the death penalty among those who identified themselves as Independents in 2017 was slightly higher than among those who called themselves Independents in 2016. Saad, "Gallup Poll Social Series: Crime, Death Penalty Topline," Gallup News Service, October 26, 2017.) Public Support for the Death Penalty Below 50% for First Time in History of 2016 Pew Research Center Polling A September 2016 national poll by the Pew Research Center found that fewer than half of Americans (49%) reported supporting the death penalty.
However, long-term death-penalty support among Independents fell 10 percentage points, as compared to the 68% who told Gallup they supported the death penalty in 2000. It was the lowest level of death-penalty support in the history of Pew’s polling on the subject, dating back to 1996, and the first time since 49% of respondents told the Gallup poll in November 1971 that they supported capital punishment that a national poll had registered death-penalty support below 50%.
By margins of more than 3 to 1, men and women, Blacks and Whites, and Democrats and Independents also said using the death penalty would not help stop the opiod crisis.