Gallup posts, "Americans' Support for Death Penalty Stable," by Jeffrey M. Jones. Here's the beginning:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Six in 10 Americans favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, generally consistent with attitudes since 2008. Since 1937, support has been as low as 42% in 1966 and as high as 80% in 1994.
Americans' support for the death penalty has varied over time, but apart from a single reading in 1966, the public has consistently favored it. Support ebbed from the 1960s to the mid-1970s, when the application of the death penalty was questioned and ultimately led to the Supreme Court's invalidating state death penalty laws. Subsequent to that, newly written laws passed constitutional muster and states began to use the death penalty again in the late 1970s, with support among Americans increasing to 70% or more in the mid-1980s to the late 1990s.
The broader trend over the last two decades has been diminished support for the death penalty, including a 60% reading last year, the lowest since 1972.
Over the last two decades, Democrats' support for the death penalty has dropped significantly, from 75% to 49%. Now, Democrats are divided on whether it should be administered to convicted murderers. Republicans' and independents' support is also lower now -- down nine and 18 percentage points, respectively -- though both groups still solidly favor the death penalty.
Historical tracking of public opinion on the death penalty by Gallup is at the link. Last year's Gallup Poll is also available.
Related posts are in the public opinon polling category index.