Republican Governor, Unified Government and the U.S. States’ Death Penalty Executions


Currently, 24 states in the U.S. still permit the death penalty, along with three states temporarily suspending it. Nevertheless, there exists substantial variation in the extent to which each state actually carries out the executions. While studies have explored factors influencing this variation, little attention has been paid to the political role of state governors’ and legislatures’ support in the different tendencies toward death penalty executions across states. To fill this gap, we empirically tested how governors’ party affiliation and unified political support from the legislature affect death penalty executions in the U.S. We demonstrated that states with a Republican governor are more likely to execute the death penalty. Additionally, we found that this tendency is significantly stronger when both chambers of the state legislature are dominated by Republicans (i.e. Republican-unified government), which is consistent with the theoretical expectation of unified government discourse in the policy making and implementation contexts..