A recent study from the Pew Research Center finds, after years of declining support, more Americans back the death penalty.
The survey finds that more than half of Americans–54 percent– favor the death penalty for convicted murderers while 39 percent are opposed to it.
In 2016, Pew found that public support for the death penalty stood at 49 percent, an all time low. In 2007 support for the death penalty reached record highs with 64 percent of those surveyed by Pew backing it and 29 percent against it. Experts attributed this high level of support to Americans reacting to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
The poll shows a major partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats on the issue. A strong majority of Republicans–77 percent–back the death penalty while only 35 percent of Democrats support it. A slight majority of independents–52 percent–back the death penalty.
There’s also something of a gender gap with 61 percent of men supporting the death penalty while 34 percent are opposed to it. Women are far more divided with 46 percent of them for the death penalty and 45 percent against it.
Whites are far more likely to back the death penalty with 59 percent of them for it and 34 percent against it. Barely a third of blacks–36 percent–support the death penalty while 52 percent are against it. Hispanics are almost evenly divided with 49 percent of them against the death penalty and 47 percent of them supporting it.
Older and middle aged Americans generally back the death penalty but millenials are far more divided. The poll shows 47 percent of Americans 30 and under support the death penalty while 46 percent are against it.
A strong majority of white evangelicals–73 percent–support the death penalty and only 19 percent of them oppose it. Most mainline Protestants–61 percent–also back it. Despite their church’s teachings on the issue, a majority of Catholics–53 percent–back the death penalty while 45 percent are opposed to it. The poll finds the religiously unaffiliated are more divided with 48 percent of them backing the death penalty and 45 percent opposing it.
The Pew poll of 1,503 American adults was taken from April 25-May 1 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.