On the blogs: Public still backs the death penalty

With medical marijuana (and, in some states, recreational marijuana) gaining acceptance, and same-sex marriage gathering momentum around the country, what about other long-established points on the liberal-conservative fault line? Specifically, is support for capital punishment shrinking?

No. Or at least not by much.

Harry Enten at the statistic-driven blog FiveThirtyEight notes that capital punishment is not like those other issues, chiefly because support for the death penalty does not show a significant split between old and young Americans:

If the trend continues, a majority of Americans will support the death penalty for an additional 30 years. And there isn’t much reason to expect the trend to pick up speed anytime soon. Unlike issues such as same-sex marriage and marijuana, where a large age gap favors the more progressive position, young Americans aren’t all that more likely than older Americans to oppose the death penalty. Pew’s 2013 survey had a large sample size of 646 18- to 29-year-olds, and that poll found that those younger than 30 were only 4 percentage points more likely to oppose the death penalty than all Americans.

That’s assuming that opinion is not swayed by horror stories like the Clayton Lockett incident last month, when Oklahoma authorities tried but failed to execute a murderer by semi-lethal injection.

Enten detects a slow shift away from support for the death penalty. Read his analysis here.

MPR News is Member Supported

What does that mean? The news, analysis and community conversation found here is funded by donations from individuals. Make a gift of any amount today to support this resource for everyone.