Unless both of your parents are US citizens, Americans tend to think you have to be born in the United States to count as “natural born”
On Sunday, and amid speculation that having been born in Canada might disqualify him from the American presidency, Texas Senator Ted Cruz shared a copy of his birth certificate with the Dallas Morning News. The document showed that he was born in Calgary, Alberta, to an American mother, a fact which means he was a U.S. citizen from birth – and therefore a “natural born” American as the Constitution requires for presidents. The debate surrounding the Texas Republican echoes doubts many voters have had about the eligibility of President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father. But according to YouGov’s new poll, this would qualify Obama as eligible – but not Ted Cruz – in the eyes of most Americans.
YouGov asked Americans under what circumstances they think someone to be a ‘natural born American citizen", and the key factor appears to be whether the child is born in the United States and has at least one parent who is a US citizen.
Exceptions are made for foreign-born children whose parents are both American – who Americans would consider natural born by 68-22% – and U.S. born children whose parents are both non-citizens – about whom Americans are split, with only 46% considering these children natural born and 45% saying they are not. On the other hand, Americans tend to think that people born outside of the United States with only one American parent are not natural born, with opinion splitting 34-43% for foreign-born children with an American mother – like Ted Cruz – not being natural born, and splitting 31-47% in the same direction when only the father is American.
In general, opinions on the qualifications for natural born citizen ship tend to be relatively non-partisan, although Republicans tend to be less likely to agree that a child in the given circumstances would qualify.
There are only two circumstances where Democrats and Republicans, on balance, disagree: first in the case of a child born in the United States to foreign parents, which 68% of Democrats think would qualify the child for natural born citizenship while 56% of Republicans think it would not; and second, in Ted Cruz’s own circumstance, which 40% of Democrats think would qualify him compared to 39% who think it would not – and which 40% of Republicans think would not qualify him compared to only 34% who think it would.
Were Ted Cruz to win his party's nomination, however, he would not even be the first Republican nominee in recent years who was born outside of the United States – 2008 presidential candidate John McCain was actually born at a Navy base by the Panama Canal.
Full results can be found here.