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Death penalty proposition leading in latest poll

November 2, 2012 | 11:35 am
INTERACTIVE: 2012 California Propositions

A new Field Poll has found that Proposition 34, the ballot measure that would replace the death penalty in California with life without parole, leads 45% to 38%, with 17% of voters still undecided.

The poll, taken after the Yes on 34 campaign began airing radio and television ads, found that 53% of likely voters now believe the death penalty is more expensive for the state than life in prison, compared with 31% who believe life behind bars is more costly.

That was a shift from a Field Poll taken in September 2011, when more voters than not said life without parole cost more.

INTERACTIVE: 2012 California Propositions

The results also showed movement from a Field Poll just a month ago that found 45% in opposition to  Proposition 34, compared with 42% in favor.

Natasha Minsker, campaign manager for Yes on 34, said the poll showed “extraordinary momentum” but cautioned, “We are not there yet.”

Opponents of the measure have observed that ballot measures that poll below 50% heading into an election tend to lose.

Sponsors of Proposition 34 have argued that the state can no longer afford the death penalty.

California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst has said the imitative could eventually save taxpayers $130 million a year. Opponents counter that such estimates are highly exaggerated and based on a poorly executed study.

The poll queried 1,566 likely voters, with 815 interviews conducted Oct. 17-24 and 751 conducted Oct. 25-30.

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Photo: The gurney to which condemned prisoners are strapped in the new lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
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