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Post-ABC Poll: The Death Penalty

Thursday, May 3, 2001

This Washington Post - ABC News survey was conducted by telephone April 20-24, 2001, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. The results have a 3-point error margin. Fieldwork by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

1. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?

                                     No Opinion/
          Favor   Oppose   Depends   Don't Know
4/24/01    63       28       NA          9
6/18/00    63       27       NA         10
1/16/00    64       27       NA          9
2/9/99*    71       22       NA          7
8/16/98    69       27       NA          4
8/5/96     77       19       NA          4
1/4/95     74       19        5          2
9/7/94*    80       16       NA          4
4/26/92**  75       19        5          1
9/11/88*   79       16       NA          5
1/13/86    70       22       NA          8
11/18/85*  75       17       NA          8
12/18/82   76       19       NA          6
1/30/82    69       19        8          4
5/20/81    73       20        5          3
2/2/81*    66       25       NA          9
*Gallup: "Are you in favor of the death penalty
for a person convicted of murder?"
**oppose added

2. Which punishment do you prefer for people convicted of murder, the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole?

          Death Penalty   Life   No opinion
4/24/01      46            45         9
1/16/00      48            43        10
2/9/99*      56            38         6
*Gallup

3. In deciding how to vote in a state or national election, how important is it to you that a political candidate agrees with your position on the death penalty - very important, somewhat important, not too important or not important at all?

             ------Important-------   ------Not important-------    No
             NET   Very    Somewhat   NET  Not too    Not at all    op.
4/24/01      72     28        44       27     19           8         2

4. How would you feel about a law replacing the death penalty with life in prison with no chance of parole - is that something you'd support strongly, support somewhat, oppose somewhat or oppose strongly?

             --------Support--------  ---------Oppose--------   No
             NET  Strongly  Somewhat  NET  Strongly  Somewhat   op.
4/24/01      51      24        27     46      26        20       4 

5. Regardless of your overall opinion on the death penalty, for each statement I read please tell me if you agree with it strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat or disagree strongly:

                                  ----------Agree----------   --------Disagree---------   No 
                                  NET   Strongly   Somewhat   NET   Strongly   Somewhat   op.
a. The death penalty is unfair 
    because it's applied 
    differently from county to 
    county and state to state.      63      32         31      31      13         17       6
b. The death penalty is unfair 
    because it's applied unequally 
    to blacks compared to whites.   37      22         15      53      33         20      10
c. The death penalty is unfair 
    because sometimes an innocent 
    person is executed.             68      35         33      30      11         18       2
d. The death penalty is fair 
    because it's an eye for an 
    eye - the killer is killed.     56      28         28      42      26         15       3
e. The death penalty is fair 
    because it prevents killers 
    from killing again.             72      48         24      27      16         10       1
f. The death penalty is fair 
   because it gives satisfaction 
   and closure to the families 
   of murder victims.               60      30         30      37      22         15       4

6. Do you feel that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder - that it lowers the murder rate - or not?

           Yes, acts as a deterrent     No, does not     No opinion
4/24/01             43                     52               6
6/16/91*            51                     41               8
1/13/86             61                     32               7
1/14/85             62                     31               7
*1991 and previous -- Gallup: "Do you feel that the death penalty
acts as a deterrent to the commitment of murder, that it lowers the
murder rate, or not?"

7. Some people say there should be a halt in all executions in this country while a commission studies whether the death penalty has or has not been administered fairly. Others say there already are enough safeguards to prevent unfair or mistaken executions. What do you think - would you support or oppose a halt in executions while this issue is studied?

           Support     Oppose     No opinion
4/24/01      51          43            6

8. (ASKED IF OPPOSE) In Illinois the governor has halted executions while a commission studies whether the death penalty has been administered fairly. Knowing that, would you support or oppose a halt in executions nationally while this issue is studied?

           Support     Oppose     No opinion
4/24/01      13          85            2

© 2001 The Washington Post Company