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

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The U.S. Constitution.

National Archives

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.


This poll was conducted by telephone January 13-17, 2016 among a random sample of 1,000 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, Pa. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.