Just under half of Americans – 47%—prefer the death penalty for the Boston marathon bomber Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, while slightly fewer, 42%, would rather that Tsarnaev receive life in prison with no chance of parole. The latest NBC News online poll was conducted by SurveyMonkey in the three days leading up to the jury reaching a guilty verdict Wednesday on all 30 counts, 17 of which carry the possibility of a death sentence.
Older Americans are more likely to want the death penalty for Tsarnaev compared to those under the age of 30. Just about one-third of those under the age of 30 prefer the death penalty, compared to half of those over the age of 30. More than two-thirds of Republicans say they want Tsarnaev to be executed, compared to 37% of Democrats and 42% of independents.
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The trial began on March 4, with dozens of witnesses delivering testimony over the following weeks. The jury received the case Tuesday morning and deliberated for a total of about 11 hours before delivering the guilty verdicts. Tsarnaev expressed little emotion while the guilty verdicts were being read aloud in the courtroom, according to NBC News. The case now moves to a penalty phase, with the jury weighing whether to sentence Tsarnaev to death.
More than a third of Americans said they were following the Boston Marathon bombing trial somewhat or very closely. Interest in the trial was highest among those living in the Northeast part of the country, with 49% indicating they were watching the trial very or somewhat closely, compared to 32% in the rest of the country.
Those living in the Northeast were similarly divided on the death penalty for Tsaernaev, with half preferring life in prison for him and 41% saying he deserved the death penalty.
Next week, April 15 will mark the second anniversary of the bombing of the Boston Marathon, which left three people dead and 260 people injured. Overall, most Americans think the U.S. government is doing a good job of reducing the threat of terrorism, with nearly 62% saying they are doing “very well” or “somewhat well.”
But Americans are also somewhat wary about just how safe the country is from future terrorist attacks. Nearly half – 46% – say that it is very or somewhat likely that there will be a terrorist attack in the United States within the next few months. Just 12% say that a terrorist attack in the near future is “not at all likely.”
Anticipation of another attack on American soil rises with age, with 61% of those over 60 years of age saying one is likely, nearly double the number of those under 30 who say one is likely.
Half of Republicans and 57% of independents say that the U.S. government is doing somewhat or very well reducing the threat of terrorism and that sentiment is echoed by 78% of Democrats.
The NBC News-SurveyMonkey Poll was conducted online April 6-8, 2015 among a national sample of 2,052 adults aged 18 and over. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in the SurveyMonkey Contribute panel. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. A full description of our methodology can be found here. The survey was produced by the Analytics Unit of NBC News in conjunction with Penn’s Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies with data collection and tabulation conducted by SurveyMonkey. Analysis by the University of Pennsylvania’'s Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies.