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Voters, some Democratic politicians swinging against the death penalty
Voters, some Democratic politicians swinging against the death penalty

The fierce reaction to a botched Oklahoma execution may be fueled by the slow weakening of public support for capital punishment, which has coincided with a shift among Democratic politicians toward opposition to the death penalty. Capital punishment was one of a set of issues Democrats used in the early 1990s to toughen their image against accusations that they were soft on crime and criminals. Although many in earlier generations of politicians had opposed the death penalty -- contributing to Democratic losses in national races -- the candidates who drove the party’s resurgence favored it. Then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton laid an overt marker for his view in 1992, when he...

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