Christine Stuart file photo
Quinnipiac Poll Director Doug Schwartz (Christine Stuart file photo)

It’s been a few weeks since lawmakers voted to abolish the death penalty, but a new Quinnipiac University poll shows voters still largely disapprove of the move at the same time they are evenly divided when given the choice between death and life in prison without parole.

The poll released Wednesday shows 62 percent of voters favor the death penalty. When asked about the preferred punishment for a person convicted of murder, 46 percent want the death penalty while 46 percent want life in prison with no chance of parole.

A poll released on March 21 before the vote on the bill didn’t include the question about whether voters prefer life in prison to the death penalty, which opened the door to criticism of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

“The death penalty is a complex issue for voters, and for pollsters,” Poll Director Doug Schwartz said Wednesday in a press release.

“A simple yes-no question on the death penalty suggests voters want it as an option,” he said. “Adding the life without parole option shows that voters are more lenient when it comes to administering punishment.”

The poll found 74 percent of voters said a life or death sentence depends upon the circumstances of the case.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign the bill in the next few days.

The poll also shows Malloy’s approval rating dipped seven percentage points since March, from 44 to 37, while the percentage of people who disapprove of his performance stayed about the same, dropping from 45 to 44. But those numbers are still better than the General Assembly’s.

On the General Assembly’s job approval, 49 percent disapprove while 32 percent approve. Approval dropped 3 points from March’s rating of 35 percent, and disapproval also dropped a point from March’s 50 percent. However, both March and April’s numbers are significantly better than those from the September 2011 poll, which put approval at 27 percent and disapproval at 57 percent.

“We have tried to be consistent in not saying much about polls because . . . what’s there to say?  Polls come and go, numbers go up and down,” Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said. “The governor always does what he thinks is best for the state and the right thing to do.”

Minimum Wage

It’s been a couple years since the General Assembly increased the minimum wage and many lawmakers are concerned about increasing it in an uncertain economy.

But the new poll found 70 percent of voters support raising the minimum wage. Support fall largely along party lines with 88 percent of Democrats and 69 percent on independent voters supporting it. Republican voters were divided with 48 percent supporting it and 50 percent disapproving.

Given several choices on the minimum wage:

—34 percent of voters want to raise it to $9.25 per hour;
—6 percent want to raise it to something less than $9.25 per hour;
—27 percent want to raise it to more than $9.25 per hour;
—28 percent want no increase.

A vote on the minimum wage does have consequences. Fifty percent of voters believe small businesses will reduce the number of people they hire if the minimum wage is increased. That’s one of the things that has lawmakers concerned.

“Every group, except Republicans, support increasing Connecticut’s minimum wage,” Schwartz said. “Although all income groups support a higher minimum wage, support declines with income.”

The survey of 1,745 voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

****EDITOR’S NOTE 4-27-12: We corrected some figures that we’d mixed up in graphs 8 and 9 nine above when this story was first posted.****