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Vast Majority of Americans Think McVeigh Should Be Executed

Vast Majority of Americans Think McVeigh Should Be Executed

Majority would not watch execution if it were televised

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- In two weeks, Timothy McVeigh is scheduled to be executed for the deaths of 168 people in the April 1995 bombing attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted April 20-22, shows that the vast majority of Americans -- including a majority of those who generally oppose the death penalty -- believe McVeigh should be executed. The public is strongly opposed to televising the execution "for anyone to watch," a position favored by just 17% of Americans. Most Americans believe it should only be shown on closed circuit television for the victims' families to watch (39%) or believe it should not be televised at all (43%). Only about one in four Americans say they would watch the execution if they had the opportunity, but an additional 21% would watch if one of their family members had been a victim of the bombing.

Eight Out Of 10 Agree With McVeigh Execution

According to the poll, 81% of Americans believe McVeigh should be executed, while 16% think he should not. A majority of people who say they generally oppose the death penalty, 58%, believes McVeigh should be executed, while 42% do not. The latest Gallup poll figures show that 67% of Americans favor the death penalty in general, while 25% are opposed. Death penalty opponents who favor McVeigh's execution tend to be younger (below the age of 50), have a conservative or moderate rather than a liberal ideology, or live in the eastern or western parts of the country.

Majority Would Not Watch Execution on Television

Since McVeigh was sentenced to death, there has been much discussion about whether or not his execution should be televised. A small number of witnesses, including representatives of the victims' families, are required by federal law to observe the execution. United States Attorney General John Ashcroft recently decided that the execution would be televised by closed circuit for all of the victims' families to watch if they so choose. A federal judge rejected an Internet company's appeal to broadcast the execution over the Internet.

The American public is divided as to whether or not the McVeigh execution should be televised. Forty-three percent think it should not be televised at all, 39% think it should be televised only for the victims' families, and 17% think it should be on television for anyone to watch. These attitudes are related to one's opinion on the death penalty. More than half of death penalty opponents, 56%, oppose any broadcast of the execution, even when limited to family members of the victims, compared to only 35% of death penalty supporters oppose such broadcasts. Just 10% of death penalty opponents think it should be shown to all Americans, while more than twice that number of death penalty supporters (22%) express this view.

Americans do not seem overly interested in viewing the execution if it were televised. About half the public says they would not watch under any circumstances. When asked, in general, if they would watch, only 23% of Americans say they would, while 76% say they would not. However, an additional 21% say they would watch if one of their family members had been a victim in the bombing. All told, public attitudes can be classified like this:

 

 

Would watch
on national television

Would watch
only if family
member victim


Would not
watch at all


No
opinion

         

2001 Apr 20-22

23%

21

52

4



Far fewer women (37%) than men (52%) say they would watch the execution. Additionally, older Americans are less inclined to want to watch the execution than are younger Americans. Nearly two out of three Americans age 50 and older would not watch the execution, compared to just four out of 10 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. Americans who attend church weekly are much less likely to say they would watch McVeigh's execution than are those who attend church less often. Finally, 67% of death penalty opponents would not watch at all, compared to just 42% of death penalty supporters.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,015 adults, 18 years and older, conducted April 20-22, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Now thinking about Timothy McVeigh, the man convicted of murder in the Oklahoma City bombing case and sentenced to death,

Which comes closest to your view -- [ROTATED: I generally support the death penalty and believe McVeigh should be executed, I generally oppose the death penalty, but believe McVeigh should be executed in this case, (or) I generally oppose the death penalty and do not believe McVeigh should be executed]?

 

 

2001
Apr
20-22

   
 

%

Generally support death penalty and believe McVeigh should be executed

59

Generally oppose death penalty, but believe McVeigh should be executed

22

Generally oppose death penalty and do not believe McVeigh should be executed

16

   

OTHER (vol.)

1

No opinion

2



. Which comes closest to your view about televising the scheduled execution of Timothy McVeigh on May 16 -- [ROTATED: it should not be shown on television at all, it should be shown on closed circuit television only for the families of the victims to watch, (or) it should be shown on national television for anyone to watch]?

 

 


Not on
television at all

On television
for victims' families only


On television for anyone to watch


No
opinion

         

2001 Apr 20-22

43%

39

17

1



If the execution of Timothy McVeigh were to be broadcast on national television, would you watch his execution, or not?

 

 

Yes, would watch

No, would not watch

No opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

23%

76

1



If your family member had been a victim in the Oklahoma City bombing, would you watch his execution in that case, or not?

BASED ON -- 798 -- WHO WOULD NOT WATCH EXECUTION ON TELEVISION; ± PCT. PTS.

 

 

Yes, would watch

No, would not watch

No opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

27%

68

5



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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/1567/vast-majority-americans-think-mcveigh-should-executed.aspx
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