Californians remain divided on death penalty

an image of a bed inside a chamber

An image of the lethal injection chamber used in San Quentin prison. Following Governor Gavin Newsom's announcement in March, crews emptied the room. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

California voters narrowly support Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order suspending the state’s death penalty but still seem disinclined to abolish capital punishment outright, according to a new Berkeley IGS Poll.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they supported Newsom’s moratorium, while 48% said they did not.  Asked generally if the death penalty should be kept as “punishment for serious crimes,” 63% said yes.

Meanwhile, just a slim majority of those surveyed—53%—said they would vote against a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty; 46% percent said they would vote to do away with the death penalty.

The results aren’t that different than a 2016 vote to end capital punishment, where Californians voted 53% to 47% to keep the death penalty in place, suggesting opinions in the state have not shifted much when it comes to capital punishment, said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley IGS Poll, which is part of UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

The poll surveyed 4,435 registered voters via email in English and Spanish from June 4 to 10. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points.

Read all of the details on the Berkeley IGS Poll website