Where does the state stand on the death penalty?

A new Quinnipiac poll once again shows some ambivalence among Connecticut voters on the issue of capital punishment.

Asked simply if they favor or oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder, 65 percent are in favor, 23 percent against–similar to the results when Quinnipiac last asked the question three years ago.

But offered the choice of the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole as the punishment for murderers, the results are much closer: 46 percent favor execution, 41 percent life in prison–again, not  far from the 2007 results.

And even some of those who say they oppose the death penalty in general change their minds when it comes to the Cheshire home invasion case that left a mother and her two daughters dead. Asked if Stephen Hayes, recently convicted for his role in the killings, should be executed, 76 percent said yes, 18 percent no.

The major party candidates for governor are split on the issue, with Democrat Dan Malloy saying he would sign a bill repealing the death penalty and Republican Tom Foley saying he would not. Only six percent of voters would base their choice on that issue alone, the poll found.

(Telephone survey of 1,721 registered voters; margin of error +/- 2.4 percentage points.)