Monday, March 06, 2006

Death Penalty Referendum in Wisconsin

Here's the wording of an advisory referendum question on the death penalty that may make its way onto the statewide ballot as early as this September:

“Should the death penalty be enacted in the State of Wisconsin for cases involving a person who is convicted of multiple first−degree intentional homicides, if the homicides are vicious and the
convictions are supported by DNA evidence?”

Why not just ask whether people support the death penalty for Osama bin Laden? That would surely bring the results Republican legislators are looking to get.

Needless to say, the wording of the question is key. According to some reviews of public opinion polls taken on capital punishment, the percentage favoring the death penalty decreases significantly (from about 63% to 46%) when the wording of the poll question includes an alternative such as life imprisonment without parole.

Update: It should also be noted that it's no surprise this referendum question is being aimed at the September ballot, which will feature the Republican gubernatorial primary contest between Green and Walker--unquestionably a bigger draw for GOP voters than Dem voters.

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