Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?In 1937, 59% said yes, while 38% said no. Last year, the numbers were 69% and 27%, respectively. In the 1990s the numbers were the furthest apart, with 80% in favor and 16% against. In only one survey, from 1966, did the yeas (42%) get out polled by the neas (47%).
I agree with Orin over at Volokh that the question itself isn't particularly helpful because it it open to so many interpretations, but the fact that it was asked in the same way over all that time provides an interesting insight into public opinion on the issue.