Sixty-four percent of Americans said they support the death penalty while 20 percent oppose it, the firm's poll results indicated.
Despite the long-running controversy over the use of the death penalty, the attitude of the average American has hardly changed in recent years, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said. The current 64 percent support level is about equal to what Gallup said it found through most of this decade.
Asked about life in prison without the possibility of parole, the public this year was split fairly evenly, with 49 percent saying the death penalty is the better penalty for murder, while 46 percent said they thought life imprisonment was the better option, Gallup said. Gallup said the current split is about the same as in 2006, the last year this question was asked.
Forty-nine percent of Americans in this year's poll said they thought the death penalty is not imposed frequently enough, 26 percent say it is imposed "about the right amount" and 18 percent say it is imposed too often. Gallup said these attitudes changed little since 2002.
Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews with 1,025 adults conducted Oct. 7-10. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.