Renewed federal executions raise death penalty's 2020 stakes

Posted at 5:39 AM, Jul 26, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department's announcement that it will begin executing federal death row inmates for the first time since 2003 raises the political stakes of an issue that has rarely been a strength for Democrats.

The party is now unified in its opposition to capital punishment more than in years past.

Only one of the two dozen candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination supports preserving capital punishment in some cases.

But a majority of Americans continue to support the death penalty. And support is strongest among Republicans, who constitute President Donald Trump's base heading into his reelection bid.

So, while Democratic presidential hopefuls have already begun rushing to draw strong contrasts between themselves and Trump on capital punishment, the strategy may not resonate with many would-be voters.