Public opinion about the death penalty has changed only modestly in recent years, but there continues to be far less support for the death penalty than there was in the mid-1990s.
A survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Nov. 9-14, 2011, among 2,001 adults, finds that 62% favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder while 31% are opposed. That is generally in line with polling on the death penalty over the past several years.
During the mid-1990s, when the Pew Research Center first surveyed on this issue, support for the death penalty was at a historic high point. In 1996, 78% favored capital punishment for people convicted of murder. Support for the death penalty subsequently declined, falling to 66% in 2001 and 62% in late 2005. Since then, support has mostly remained in the low-to-mid-60s, though it dipped slightly (to 58%) in October 2011.
... Majorities of major religious groups, except for black Protestants, favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder. Roughly three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants (77%) and white mainline Protestants (73%) support the death penalty. Somewhat fewer white Catholics (61%), Hispanic Catholics (57%) and the religiously unaffiliated (57%) favor capital punishment for convicted murderers.