Most Americans Want Their State To Allow The Death Penalty

06/04/2015 02:29 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2015

Most Americans don't want to see their state follow in Nebraska's footsteps and ban executions, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, but the degree to which people support the death penalty is split along partisan and demographic lines.

Sixty-five percent of Americans say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, while just 25 percent oppose it. Sixty-one percent want their own state to allow for death sentences.

Just 18 percent believe death sentences are handed down too often, while 42 percent say the death penalty it isn't imposed enough, and 20 percent that the current level is just about right.

Other surveys have found support for the death penalty at similar, or somewhat lower, levels: An April CBS poll found 56 percent in favor, while Pew Research and Gallup most recently put the number at 56 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

While 44 percent of Americans in the HuffPost/YouGov poll say the death penalty is usually applied fairly, 26 percent say it's generally unfair and 30 percent aren't sure. But people are almost evenly divided on whether the death penalty actually works as a deterrent: While 41 percent say it helps prevent crime, 43 percent don't believe it does.

And a significant portion -- 40 percent -- believe that innocent people are executed occasionally or even frequently, while just 3 percent say this never happens.

That means 39 percent of Americans who think the death penalty is usually applied unfairly support it anyway, as do 43 percent of those who don't think it deters crime, and 47 percent who think that innocent people are at least occasionally executed.

A majority in both parties support the death penalty, but Republicans do so more enthusiastically, with 79 percent in favor, compared to 55 percent of Democrats. While Republicans say by a 51-point margin that the penalty is usually applied fairly, Democrats say by a 2-point margin it's generally unfair.

There's also a significant split by age, with Americans under 30 notably less comfortable with the death penalty than their older peers, and far less likely to say that it should be imposed in more cases.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted May 30-31 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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    Hanging was used as the primary method of execution in the U.S. until the electric chair's invention in 1890. Death is typically caused by dislocation of the vertebrae or asphyxiation, but in cases when the rope is too long, the inmate can sometimes be decapitated. If too short, the inmate can take up to 45 minutes to die.
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    This Old West-style execution method dates back to the invention of firearms. In a typical scenario in the U.S., the inmate is strapped to a chair. Five anonymous marksmen stand 20 feet away, aim rifles at the convict's heart, and shoot. One rifle is loaded with blanks.
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    Decapitation has been used in capital punishment for thousands of years. Above is the chopping block used for beheadings at the Tower of London.
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    Kauko via Wikimedia Commons
    Invented in France in the late 18th century during the French Revolution, the guillotine was designed to be an egalitarian means of execution. It severed the head more quickly and efficiently than beheading by sword.
  • Hanging, Drawing and Quartering
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    A punishment for men convicted of high treason, "hanging, drawing and quartering" was used in England between the 13th and 19th centuries. Men were dragged behind a horse, then hanged, disemboweled, beheaded, and chopped or torn into four pieces.
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    Carter Cutlery/Wikimedia Commons
    Also called "death by a thousand cuts," this execution method was used in China from roughly A.D. 900 until it was banned in 1905. The slicing took place for up to three days. It was used as punishment for treason and killing one's parents.
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    Wikimedia Commons
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  • Crucifixion
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    Crucifixion goes back to around the 6th century B.C.used today in Sudan. For this method of execution, a person is tied or nailed to a cross and left to hang. Death is slow and painful, ranging from hours to days.
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    Pat Canova via Getty Images
    Records show societies burning criminals alive as far back as the 18 century B.C. under Hammurabi's Code of Laws in Babylonia. It has been used as punishment for sexual deviancy, witchcraft, treason and heresy.
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    Antoine Wiertz/Wikimedia Commons
    Execution by burial goes back to 260 B.C. in ancient China, when 400,000 were reportedly buried alive by the Qin dynasty. Depending on the size of the coffin (assuming there is one), it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours for a person to run out of oxygen.
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    This ancient method of execution continues to be used as punishment for adultery today.
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    Wikimedia Commons
    This method was commonly used for many centuries in South and Southeast Asia, in which an elephant would crush and dismember convicts as a punishment for treason.
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    Michelangelo/Wikimedia Commons
    Records show flaying, the removal of skin from the body, was used as far back as the 9th century B.C.
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    Wikimedia Commons
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