Poll: Slim Majority of Utahns Support the Death Penalty

A slight majority of Utahns say they support capital punishment.

That’s from a new UtahPolicy.com survey conducted by Dan Jones & Associates. 52% say the death penalty is the proper punishment for heinous crimes like murder.
A little more than a third of Utahns (35%) say such offenses should be punished by life in prison without parole. 8% stated that they didn’t know.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee advanced a measure sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, to abolish the death penalty in Utah going forward. The measure would not commute the sentences for those already convicted of capital crimes.
Another bill would impose the death penalty in some human trafficking cases. That bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, was approved by the full House and is now awaiting consideration by the Senate.

Not surprisingly, Republicans in Utah are solidly for the death penalty, while Democrats and independent voters are split on the issue.
  • 63% of Republicans support capital punishment for severe crimes while 25% say life in prison is the proper punishment.
  • Only 30% of Democrats favor the death penalty.
  • 47% of independents support capital punishment while 39% say life in prison is the proper sentence.

There is a clear gender gap on the issue, with men definitely for the death penalty while women are divided.
  • 61% of men think capital punishment is right while 44% of women agree.
  • Just 30% of men favor life in prison compared to 39% of women.
Support for the death penalty in Utah has softened significantly in the past two months. A December UtahPolicy.com survey found 67% of Utahns supported capital punishment in Utah while 26% wanted the state to move to life without parole in those cases. 
Another UtahPolicy.com poll from June of 2015 found 68% of Utahns thought child sex trafficking should be a death penalty offense while just 28% said it should not be.
The survey was conducted from February 10-15, 2016 among 625 adult Utahns. They were contacted via telephone, both landline and cell phones, and through an online panel. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.92%.