​CBS News poll: Should U.S. Presidents be "Natural Born"?


The U.S. Constitution prohibits anyone except a “natural born citizen” from becoming President, though legal experts disagree as to whether or not that means they need to be born in the United States or simply be an American citizen at birth.

Though they may quibble on the definition, most Americans don’t think this long-standing rule should be changed to allow naturalized citizens to inhabit the Oval Office.

According to a CBS News poll released Sunday, while 21% of Americans would favor changing the Constitution to allow people who aren’t natural born U.S. citizens to become President, 75% would oppose such a change.

Eighty-two percent of conservatives oppose changing the Constitution, while 76 percent of moderates and 64 percent of liberals oppose it.

Liberals are more amendable to the idea of changing the Constitution (32%) than moderates (21%) or conservatives (13%).

And there are generational differences. While 29% of adults under 35 would favor changing the Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to become president, this drops to just 10% of Americans over 65.



There needs to be one definitive definition of “Natural Born Citizen.”


I think it’s a good rule but I think the requirement should be clear on proper interpretation. I don’t mind if they are born abroad of parents that are US Citizens, assuming they’ve spent formative years here in their youth.

We have plenty of people from which to find a viable candidate. If someone like Arnold S doesn’t qualify, there are plenty of political offices they can fulfill without problem.

I think it’s a bit symbolic but important.


Yes - should be born in the USA of already American parents/citizens.


So Cruz is out?


Poll should read: Do you favor changing the Constitution to allow people who aren’t natural born U.S. citizens to become president of the US?


I think ‘natural born’ should be defined to include being born in a foreign hospital, of parents that are US Citizens. Such children have automatic citizenship.


Arnold 2020!





Agreed. Anyone who does not have to apply for citizenship and become naturalized, regardless of where they are born, should be considered a natural born citizen. They already are considered natural born citizens in every other application (i.e. passports, security clearances, employment, etc.)


There is evidence that this is what the Fathers intended; however, and unfortunately for those who still hold that POV, they did not put that explicit wording in the Constitution.


I think technically he is, but you are right in saying there should be a definitive court ruling.


My Godmother was a US citizen, born in Italy 76 years ago. Her mother was a US citizen. She came to the US with a US passport, never needed a green card.

So the US recognized at least 76 years ago that the children of citizens born abroad were in fact US citizens.


The last thing this country needs is divided loyalties in its highest office. No, naturalized citizens should not be admitted to the Presidency.

That said, the Constitution creates only two classes of citizens, not three. If someone is recognized as a citizen and never needed naturalization, then they are by default natural citizens. Where they first drew breath should not be the issue.



My main issue are the non-negotiables.

In my civics class in high school the teacher mentioned “the requirement for US citizen birth was to prevent a foreign despot from taking control of a powerful position in the country”.


Just as a matter of interest, as new territories joined the Union, were their citizens, born in those territories, regarded as ‘natural born’ for purposes such as this?


I don’t believe the issue ever arose during the period of the western territories.

However, John McCain, born in the (then) Panama Canal Zone, was never legally challenged on his citizenship in his 2008 presidential campaign, although his birthplace now lies in a foreign country.



I think the issue is more complicated than many realize. I know someone who came to the US when she was 4, she is as American as any natural born person, perhaps more so. On the other hand, I know citizens that were born in the US and raised in a different country. The latter is allowed to run for president, the former is not. There is something messed up about that.


Not really.

“Raising” in, and personal attachment to a place, are to an extent subjective. Running for the presidency is not. An objective cutoff has to exist somewhere.

This is no more unfair than excluding a 34-year-old from candidacy.



George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc were not born in the United States of America.

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