Support for the death penalty for those convicted of murder has hit a four-decade low, but six in 10 Americans continue to support the idea of capital punishment.

new Gallup poll shows 60 percent support the death penalty, while 35 percent oppose it. Support is down from a high of 80 percent in the mid-1990s.

Much of the drop has come from a loss of support among independents and Democrats. Eighty-one percent of Republicans continue to support the death penalty.

Gallup has tracked the issue since the 1930s. Only briefly in the 1960s did opposition to the death penalty trump support for it.

Most states currently allow the death penalty, but most that do, use it infrequently.


Death penalty actions, by state. (Credit: National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty)