Support for capital punishment in Louisiana has fallen by seven percentage points in the last four years, according to the 2022 Louisiana Survey by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at Louisiana State University.

“Four years ago supporters of the death penalty outnumbered opponents by 24 points, today that difference is only 13 points,” Mike Henderson, Associate Professor at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication and principal author of the report on the survey, said.

51% of respondents to the annual survey reported that they favor the death penalty, down from the 58% who expressed support for capital punishment the last time the Reilly Center asked the question in 2018. Opposition to the death penalty rose four percentage points, from 34% to 38% in that same period.

Although support for capital punishment dropped among Louisianans of all political affiliations, the decline was most pronounced among those identifying as Independents. 61% of Independents in 2018 said that they favored the death penalty. That fell to 50% in the 2022 survey, an 11 percentage-point decline. 42% of Independents said they oppose the death penalty, up 11 percentage points from the 31% who expressed opposition in 2018. Eight percent of respondents in both year’s surveys were undecided or declined to answer.

54% of Louisiana Democrats said that they opposed the death penalty, as compared to 32% of Democratic respondents who favored it. While death-penalty support among Democrats fell by 11 percentage points from 43% in 2018, opposition rose by only one percentage-point from 53%. 14% of Democratic respondents said they were undecided on the issue or declined to answer, up from 4% in the 2018 survey.

Support for capital punishment also declined by four percentage points among Louisiana Republicans, falling from 74% in 2018 to 70% in the 2022 Louisiana Survey. Opposition to the death penalty increased marginally, from 19% to 20%, with the percentage of respondents undecided or declining to answer up by three percentage points, from 7% to 10%.

The 2022 Louisiana Survey polled 508 adult respondents interviewed via landline telephone, cellphone, or online questionnaire between February 21 and March 14, 2022. The Reilly Center reported that the poll has a margin of error of ± 5.8 percentage points.

Louisiana’s thirteen percentage point difference between support for and opposition to capital punishment was slightly higher than the national margin of eleven percentage points reported in the October 2021 Gallup poll, which reported 54% of respondents supporting the death penalty and 43% opposing. The decline in support for the death penalty among all political affiliations is consistent with the results of all major national polls.

Louisiana’s declining support for the death penalty is also consistent with trends in neighboring states. Polling in Oklahoma in October 2021 found that support for capital punishment had declined by ten percentage points since 2015. An April 2021 University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey found that support for the death penalty had fallen by 12 percentage points in the state since February 2015.

“I sort of think people have seen those high profile cases [of possible innocence] and have re-considered whether [the death penalty is] the best sentencing measure to handle these kinds of crimes,” Henderson said. “Perhaps we are seeing a small reflection of that trend in this state and if it continues, then the Legislature may reconsider that view in their policy a decade from now or perhaps sooner,” he said.


Jeff Palermo, LSU Survey: Support for death penal­ty in Louisiana slips, WWL Radio, New Orleans, May 2, 2022; Michael Henderson, 2022 Louisiana Survey Report 6, Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, Louisiana State University, April 28, 2022; News Release, 2022 Louisiana Survey Shows Polarization Over Abortion Grows While Support for Legal Access Increases Substantially among Democrats, Louisiana State University LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, April 28, 2022; Allison Bruhl, Louisiana res­i­dents share opin­ions on abor­tion, death penal­ty in sur­vey, WGNO-TV, New Orleans, April 28, 2022; Olivia C. Landry, Residents split on abor­tion, death penal­ty in Louisiana, sur­vey finds, LSU Manship School News Service, April 282022.