In Poll on Death Penalty, a 45-Year First
Supporters no longer in majority: Pew
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2016 7:57 AM CDT
A 2014 file photo shows the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(Newser) – For the first time in 45 years, Americans who support the death penalty can't count themselves among the majority. Just 49% of Americans polled from late August to early September said they supported capital punishment for people guilty of murder, while 42% said they opposed it, according to the Pew Research Center. Recent botched executions by lethal injection may be responsible for the drop in support from March 2015, when 56% of Americans backed the death penalty, reports Business Insider. But support has actually fallen across the political spectrum since the mid-1990s, when support reached 80% as violent crime and murder rates rose, per the Washington Post.

Some 57% of white Americans now support the death penalty, compared to 29% of blacks and 36% of Hispanics, according to the poll of 1,201 adults. Men, older Americans, and those without a college degree are also more likely to support the death penalty. But just 34% of Democrats support capital punishment, compared to 71% two decades ago, reports the New York Times. Some 72% of Republicans support it, down from 87%, and 44% of independents support it, down from 57%. As support has fallen, so have the number of executions. There have been just 15 so far this year, including 12 in Texas and Georgia. (Ohio is set to resume executions after a three-year break.)