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The Independent Poll: Nevada voters overwhelmingly support death penalty

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
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Death penalty chamber

A solid majority of Nevada voters support the Legislature keeping the state’s death penalty.

Voters on all sides of the political spectrum said they support Nevada law keeping capital punishment for first degree murders, according to results from the new Independent Poll conducted between Jan. 12 and 15.

Sixty-six percent of voters polled supported keeping the death penalty in place, with 27 percent in favor of abolishing it and 7 percent unsure. Poll respondents felt strongly about capital punishment — 59 percent said they “strongly” supported it, compared to 22 percent who “strongly” opposed it.

Voters were asked the following question:

“As you may know, Nevada currently has the death penalty for first-degree murder. Should the state Legislature keep the death penalty, or should they abolish the death penalty and replace it with a life sentence without the possibility of parole? Do you feel this way strongly or not so strongly?”

Poll respondents across the political spectrum voiced support for the death penalty; self-identified Republicans supported keeping capital punishment by a massive 79 to 15 percent margin, while independents (63 to 27 percent) and Democrats (55 to 38 percent) also supported keeping the death penalty.

Younger voters were slightly less likely to support the death penalty (60 to 31 percent support keeping it) compared to voters over 50 (70 to 24 percent), but all demographic groups surveyed supported keeping the penalty in place.

Several Nevada Democrats plan to introduce legislation abolishing the penalty in the 2017 Legislature, which would leave life without parole as the state’s most severe punishment.

Nevada reinstated the death penalty in 1973 and currently has 81 people on death row, but the state currently has no available drug supplier for a lethal injection. State lawmakers in 2015 approved roughly $858,000 to construct a new execution chamber at the state prison in Ely.

The Mellman Group is an opinion research firm that has done polling for former Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Steny Hoyer and other political and corporate clients, including many in Nevada. FiveThirtyEight gives the group a “B” grade in their ranking of pollsters and says their polls historically tilt slightly Democratic.

Editor Jon Ralston explains why The Nevada Independent hired Mellman in a blog post here.

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