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62% Still Favor Death Penalty for Fort Hood Killer

Voters are now more inclined to view the November 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas as a criminal act rather than terrorism, but they feel just as strongly that the Muslim U.S. Army major charged with the killings should be executed if convicted in his upcoming trial.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 62% of Likely U.S. Voters think Major Nadal Malik Hasan should receive the death penalty if he is found guilty. Hasan is charged with murdering 13 people and wounding 32 others. Sixteen percent (16%) say Hasan should not be given the death penalty if convicted. Another 21% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings are little changed from those just after the shootings took place.

At that time, however, 60% of voters thought the incident should be investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act, while just 27% felt it should be handled by civilian authorities as a criminal act. Now 38% of voters view the incident as a terrorist act, while 45% see it as a criminal one. Seventeen percent (17%) are undecided.

A Senate report released last week found that government agencies failed to respond to numerous overt warning signs that Hasan was a potential risk and that political correctness was a primary reason for this. Only 15% of voters think political correctness did not prevent the military from responding to warning signs from Hasan. Forty-four percent (44%) believe political correctness was a factor, but that’s down from 63% shortly after the killings. A sizable 41% now are not sure whether political correctness was at play or not.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 8-9, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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