Most voters don’t back death penalty for drug dealers

March 26, 2018

At an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, on March 19 President Donald Trump unveiled a multi-step anti-opioid proposal that would include harsher penalties for drug dealing and trafficking, including capital punishment for some offenses.

“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time,” Trump told the crowd, some of whom shouted “Yes!” in response to his statement, NBC News reported. “That toughness includes the death penalty.”

However, in a follow-up poll of 1,291 registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University, Americans opposed  imposing the death penalty on drug dealers whose sales ultimately cause overdoses by a plurality of  71% versus 21%—including 57% to 35%  opposition among Republicans

Voters said, 75% versus 20%, that this use of the death penalty would not help stop the opioid crisis.

In a simple question, American voters support the death penalty (58% to 33%) for persons convicted of murder, according to Quinnipiac. But when offered a choice between the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole, American voters choose the life option, 51% to 37%—the first time a majority of voters has backed the life without parole option since the independent Quinnipiac University Poll first asked this question in 2004.

But voters say ( 64% to 31%)  that the death penalty should not be abolished nationwide. Democrats are divided—as 47% want to abolish the death penalty and 46% don’t want to see it nullified Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group is opposed to abolishing the death penalty.

“It’s a mixed message on a question that has moral and religious implications. Voters are perhaps saying, ‘Keep the death penalty, but just don’t use it,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Despite what President Donald Trump says, neither Democrats nor Republicans have the stomach for executing drug dealers,” Malloy added.

Research contact: timothy.malloy@quinnipiac.edu

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