Six-in-ten U.S. adults favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to an April Pew Research Center survey that was conducted online using the Center’s American Trends Panel. The share of adults who support capital punishment for convicted murderers has been relatively stable in the Center’s online surveys over the past few years.
Opinions about the death penalty have also remained stable in the Center’s telephone surveys during this period. But while there has been relative continuity in Americans’ views across both survey modes, the public consistently expresses more support for the death penalty online than on the phone – a finding that has important consequences for understanding trends on the issue.
As the Center has previously noted, people sometimes – though not always – respond differently to similar questions on the same topics in online and telephone polls. There are a variety of reasons why that might be the case, including the fact that survey respondents’ answers might be influenced by the presence of a live phone interviewer (as opposed to online polls, which are self-administered).