Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Brad Hays




opinion, policy, influence, public, regions


Despite the 1976 affirmation by the Supreme Court that the death penalty does not violate the Constitution, some states have moved away from this practice due to a variety of reasons to the point that there appears to be regional differences in policy on this issue. The objective of this study is to determine which factors influence public opinion on capital punishment and how they account for the regional discrepancies in policy. I identify a number of demographic factors that have been found to influence this opinion on a national scale, for reexamination at the regional level. Six states are selected to represent the six regions of the United States. Using the Survey Documentation and Analysis software, I examine those demographic factors, as well as party ideology, crime rates, and urbanization trends, to determine how they interact and influence public opinion within the different regions. These opinions are then compared to their state’s corresponding policy. Additionally, I conduct an analysis of newspaper editorial articles for each of the states. Utilizing SPSS, I look at the variety of arguments for and against the death penalty to determine how this could impact public opinion and policy. Although this study did not reveal every factor that influences public opinion on capital punishment, it has pointed out some key features that, in combination with the media influence, explain why we observe differing policies among the regions, as well as the potential policy changes that could result if certain aspects of those regions were modified.