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FOX News/Opinion Dynamics:The McVeigh Execution

Most Americans think Timothy McVeigh is guilty of the Oklahoma City bombing and a majority agree with the appeals court decision to go forward with his execution even after new FBI documents were discovered. According to a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 82 percent think there is not even the slightest possibility that McVeigh is innocent.

By a two-to-one margin the public agrees with the federal prosecutor's position that there is no case in which the death penalty could be more appropriate than Timothy McVeigh's. This mirrors overall beliefs about the death penalty in general; 68 percent favor the death penalty for persons convicted of premeditated murder.

Polling was conducted by telephone June 6-7, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points. LV = likely voters

1. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of premeditated murder?

 FavorOppose(Not sure)
8 June 0168%2210
20 Apr 0066%2311
30 June 0068%248
11 Feb 0067%2211
9 Jan 9874%188
27 June 9773%189
2 May 9776%177

2. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for a person convicted of premeditated murder, if that person is shown to be mentally retarded?

1. Favor19%
2. Oppose67
3. (Not sure)14

3. Do you think there is even the slightest possibility that Timothy McVeigh is not guilty of the Oklahoma City bombing?

1. Yes—there is a chance11%
2. No—there is no chance82
3. (Not sure)7

4. Recently the FBI discovered thousands of pages of documents that had not been previously turned over to the attorneys for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Do you think McVeigh's scheduled execution should be delayed because of the discovery of these new documents?

1. Yes, the execution should be delayed30%
2. No, the execution should not be delayed62
3. (Not sure)8

5. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "There is no case in which the death penalty could be more appropriate than Timothy McVeigh's."

1. Agree69%
2. Disagree23
3. (Not sure)8

May 11, 2001

Most Americans think the death penalty is the right punishment for Timothy McVeigh, whose scheduled execution for the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City was delayed the day after polling was completed. The delay will no doubt lead to additional media attention to the execution story – a news story that 49 percent think the media have been paying too much attention (9 percent say too little attention and 30 percent say the right amount).

The public sees the threat from terrorism on U.S. soil coming from domestic terrorists like McVeigh equally as likely as from foreign terrorists. Only one-third say they would be willing to give up some personal freedoms to reduce the threat of terrorism, down from 60 percent who said so in August 1996. Forty-one percent think the federal government is doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks while 37 percent disagree.

Polling was conducted by telephone May 9-10, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. Later this month, Timothy McVeigh will be executed by lethal injection for the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that left 168 people dead. Do you think the death penalty is the right punishment for McVeigh’s crimes or not?

Yes74%
No18
Not sure8

Compare to: Taking a specific case, Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of committing the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people, is scheduled to be executed next month. Do you think the proper sentence for McVeigh is the death penalty or life in prison? (18-19 April 2001)

Death penalty71%
Life in prison24
Not sure5

2. When McVeigh bombed the federal building, do you think:

He was acting alone,11%
He was acting with the one accomplice who has been charged and convicted, or24
He was acting as part of a larger group that is still unidentified?40
Not sure25

Compare to: Do you think McVeigh acted alone, acted with just one accomplice, or as part of a larger group? (19-20 March 1997) (asked of 751 respondents who thought McVeigh was involved in bombing)

Acted alone3%
Had just one accomplice15
Acted as part of a larger group74
(Not sure)8

3. Do you think the media have been paying too much attention or too little attention to the McVeigh execution story?

Too much49%
Too little9
About the right amount30
Not sure12

4. McVeigh has asked to have his execution televised. Do you think that the execution should be televised or not?

 YesNo(Not sure)
11 May 0118%77 5
20 Apr 0117%785
23 Feb 0118%784

5. Which do you believe is more of a threat on U.S. soil:

Terrorists from foreign countries, or41%
Homegrown terrorists, such as McVeigh?39
Not sure20

Compare to: Which do you believe is more of a threat on U.S. soil, terrorists from the Middle East or homegrown terrorists like the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber? (10-11 July 96)

Middle East24%
Homegrown63
Not sure13

6. Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?

 YesNo(Not sure)
11 May 0133%4027
9 Aug 9660%3010

7. In the next five years, do you think you will actually have to make any changes in your day-to-day lifestyle in response to terrorist activity in the U.S.?

 YesNo(Not sure)
11 May 0130%5911
9 Aug 9642%535

8. Which do you think presents more of a real danger right now:
SCALE: 1. Nuclear weapons 2. Chemical and biological weapons 3. (Equal) 4. (Not sure)

 NuclearChemical/Bio(Equal)(Dk)
11 May 019%69148
18 Dec 98 (± 4%)13%70107

9. Do you think the federal government is doing enough to prevent terrorist activity in the U.S.?

Yes41%
No37
Not sure22