Death Penalty Whumps Joe Biden

Gallup has two contrasting polls out today.  One shows President Biden’s approval rating at 42%.  On crime, it’s lower than that (39% approval to 57% disapproval); perhaps citizens are not real thrilled with his Attorney General’s denominating parents as “domestic terrorists” if they voice dissent at school board meetings.

Gallup’s other news release is about its annual  death penalty poll, showing approval at 54%, which, Gallup notes, “is essentially unchanged from readings over the past four years…”

Although much of the packaging of the poll emphasizes that support for capital punishment has fallen considerably from its high of 80% in 1994, a more careful look reveals something else.  For more than 20 years up until 2017 (and, not coincidentally, as the murder rate also fell markedly), support for the death penalty was in a big and steady decline, yes.  But the decline has stopped and has stayed stopped over the last four years.

If the halt in the decline for support for capital punishment had been for one or two years, then it would be fair to write it off as a statistical anomaly.  Not so when the halt in erosion has lasted four years.  What that may mean is that we’ve reached the low point at 54%  —  a level that is not only well above President Biden’s approval, but that exceeds the popular vote percentage of all but one President in the last fifty years (Ronald Reagan in 1984 with 58.77%, see this chart).

Dress it up as they like  —  and they like plenty, as you would expect  —  death penalty opponents cannot escape the documented fact that capital punishment enjoys a large and consistent majority in this country, a majority that would win virtually any national election (and that did win two relatively recent referenda in deep blue California); and that their years-long frantic and often dishonest campaign to portray it as barbaric, botched and brutal has run into the wall of reality.

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