, an Indiana University professor who has studied the death penalty , says high-profile events often shift public opinion.
I could see an immediate spike in support ( for capital punishment ) around the time of ( McVeigh's ) execution , but if media attention is then devoted to another innocent person being released from death row , that would likely lead to less support for it , she
notes that support for the death penalty has fallen during the past 10 years amid widespread publicity about death-row exonerations.A 1991 Gallup Poll said 76 % of Americans backed the death penalty ; a Gallup Poll two months ago showed support at 67 %.
Those percentages differ from percentages in the USA TODAY Poll , in part because the USA TODAY Poll included a third choice opposed to death penalty but in favor of executing McVeigh â€ that makes the two polls difficult to compare.
Death-penalty backers note that despite nearly 50 years of debate over capital punishment , the percentages of Americans who support it and who oppose it are virtually the same as in 1953.