CA death penalty poll shows dramatic consensus

Longtime readers know that I personally oppose the death penalty, and that mine is a minority opinion around here — and I’m comfortable with that.  If I wasn’t, I might look for moral support from one of the most hopelessly liberal states in the country, my native state of California.  Surely, if one state would have an electorate opposed to the death penalty, it would be the one who keeps cluelessly electing Democrats in a near-one-party government despite thundering towards fiscal and economic collapse.  Right?


By 2:1, CA Voters Back Death Penalty: 61% of registered voters from the state of California say they would vote to keep the death penalty, should a death penalty initiative appear on the November 2012 ballot, according to this latest SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KGTV-TV San Diego, KPIX-TV San Francisco, KFSN-TV Fresno, and KABC-TV Los Angeles. 29% say they would vote to eliminate the death penalty. Keeping the death penalty law in California is supported by a majority among all groups except liberals, who are divided.

Honestly, it’s not news that Californians support the death penalty.  They’ve repeatedly voted for it, and even bounced a Supreme Court justice off the bench for obstructing executions, the late Rose Bird thirty years ago.

What’s so fascinating is just how much Golden State voters support it.  More women than men want the death penalty to remain in place (63% to 59%).  Every age group has a majority supporting it, from younger voters at 57/31 to seniors at 62/29.  Majorities of black and Hispanic voters support it, even while opponents claim it gets applied in a discriminatory fashion against minority defendants.  It’s no surprise to see 70% of Republicans supporting it, but 56% of Democrats do as well – and even a plurality of self-described liberals want it as an option (48/44).

How popular is it, geographically speaking?  In the San Francisco Bay area — the liberal bastion of California — 56% of voters support the death penalty.  The other bastion of liberalism, the Los Angeles megalopolis, supports it 64/27.

I suspect the reason for this might be the continued oxygenation of Richard Ramirez, one of the most evil criminals ever, who continues to languish on Death Row more than 22 years after being sentenced to death in the Night Stalker murder/rape/robbery spree of the mid-1980s.  His continued oxygenation also provides a pretty good example of what’s wrong with the death penalty in California, too, but the thought that a parole board or a governor could set this lunatic free is probably enough to make the death penalty look like a good option to keep in hand.  And frankly, even though I oppose the death penalty, as someone who lived through the Night Stalker nightmare, I find it hard to blame California voters for that belief.

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