Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Field Poll: CA Death Penalty Repeal Initiative Close

The Field Poll is the most trusted name in California polling. They are currently polling the 11 pending ballot measures which will be decided on election day and releasing the results periodically. Proposition 34 is one that I am following closely, since it would abolish the abhorrent and wasteful practice of the state of California executing its citizens, replacing the death penalty with a less expensive and more humane Life Without Parole system.

The latest Field Poll says that 45% of likely voters oppose Proposition 34 with 42% supporting it. (The margin of error in the poll is ±4.3 points.) This is not a good sign, since the conventional wisdom is that ballot measures typically need to be polling well over 50% in order more than a month before voting happens in order to survive the general bias of voters to reject propositions, especially in the face of an expensive television ad campaign aimed at raising doubts. But Proposition 34 may have a different fate than convention wisdom would indicate because 1) proponents have a huge cash advantage (possibly as high as 10:1) and 2) Most Californians have a pretty fixed view of their opinion about the death penalty and are unlikely to be swayed by a television ad campaign on this matter. In fact, Field goes on to explain in their polling memo on Proposition 34 that it is only very recently that there were pluralities in California that supported life without parole over the death penalty since only recently did people understand how expensive financially the implementation of the death penalty is. It typically takes 25 years from the time a convicted criminal is sentenced to death row that an execution occurs in California. This is due to the fact that every single Capital case must go through the California Supreme Court at some point (and of course there's also the federal court system to consider as well).

By looking at the internals of the polling memo, one good sign is that a majority of Democrats (50%-37%) and Independents (54%-33%) support the measure. (Of course nearly two-thirds of Republicans oppose ending the death penalty since even though Republicans generally hate government, they still think it should have the power to execute its citizens. Go figure!) Since together Democrats and Independents will be a significant majority of the electorate as Republicans are fast becoming an irrelevant party in the state,  Proposition 34  still has a reasonable chance of passing. It's also a pretty good sign that the undecided vote is pretty evenly distributed among the parties.

I'll be giving periodic updates on the state of Proposition 34 as the election gets closer. That and Proposition 36 (which would reform our state's infamous "three-strikes and you're out" law) are two very important measures to rein in the prison-industrial complex in California.

1 comment:

Chris Bernstien said...

Actually, the most recent poll shows a 10% greater support for the death penalty. ( The 729 on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, with 230 children. 43 were police officers. 211 were raped, 319 were robbed, 66 were killed in execution style, and 47 were tortured. 11 murdered other inmates.

The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false.

No “savings.” Alleged savings ignore increased life-time medical costs for aging inmates and require decreased security levels and housing 2-3 inmates per cell rather than one. Rather than spending 23 hours/day in their cell, inmates will be required to work. These changes will lead to increased violence for other inmates and guards and prove unworkable for these killers.

No “accountability.” Max earnings for any inmate would amount to $383/year (assuming 100% of earnings went to victims), divided by number of qualifying victims. Hardly accounts for murdering a loved one.

No “full enforcement” as 729 inmates do not receive penalty given them by jurors. Also, for the 34,000 inmates serving life sentences, there will be NO increased penalty for killing a guard or another inmate. They’re already serving a life sentence.

Liberals are also trying to get rid of life sentences. (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.) This would lead to possible paroles for not only the 729 on death row, but the 34,000 others serving life sentences. Remember Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps?

Arguments of innocence bogus. Can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA. Can’t
identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. See


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