An exclusive News 9/News On 6 poll shows more Oklahomans support the abolition of the death penalty, but on the condition that an alternative is offered.
In the poll, we asked Oklahomans if they would support or oppose the abolition of the death penalty in Oklahoma, if those typically given the death penalty were given life without any possibility of parole and ordered to pay mandatory restitution to the victims’ families for the rest of their life.
According to the poll, 52 percent said they support the abolition of death penalty, while 34 percent said they oppose it. And 14 percent said they have no opinion on this issue.
“A lot of people are in support of the death penalty right now, because they were never given an alternative,” said Bill Shapard, founder of SoonerPoll.com. “Right now the death penalty is really the only alternative to those who have committed some of the worst crimes in our society. But yet, now we are given an alternative, people are open to that.”
But what may be even more telling is who supports getting rid of the death penalty. When it comes to party affiliation, support is highest among democrats and independents at 53.3 and 55.8, respectively
Among men and women, support was nearly even. Shepard said the issue is a philosophical one and may not differ between gender like other issues.
But when it comes to age, the poll may be a glimpse into the possible future of executions.
Only 34 percent of Millennials support abolishing the death penalty. However, support increases the older the voters get. Forty-two percent of Generation X and 49 percent of baby boomers were in support. The most support for stopping executions comes among the oldest voters at 59 percent; a trend that differs from the conventional wisdom that younger generation tend to be more liberal.
“I think that to find out where the public is going, this is point in time, it's a snapshot to find out movement one way or another we'll have to do this again to find out one way or another to see which way it's moving,” Shapard said.
About the poll: SoonerPoll conducted the surveys by phone November 12-15, 2015 of 794 likely voters, registered to vote in Oklahoma. The margin of error is +/- 3.48 percent. The results were weighted by age, sex and political party and stratified to Oklahoma likely voter demographics.