I am seeing a persistent number of Google news alerts about the eligibility of Ted Cruz. This morning I was reading an article at CNN from one alert, “Ted Cruz not the only one with a birther challenge” where I found something that sounded very much like the kinds of statements CNN made about Obama birthers, pushing them to the fringe. Fringe or not, this coverage keeps the controversy going.
Cruz was conferred American citizenship at birth because his mother is an American citizen, and legal experts have largely agreed that would qualify him for natural-born citizenship. The Texas Republican was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and also had Canadian citizenship until he renounced it in 2014.
I don’t mean to say that news coverage of Cruz eligibility is a new thing (NPR had, for example, a story last March,“Is Ted Cruz Allowed to Run Since He Was Born in Canada?”), but the coverage this year is relentless.
An earlier poll showed that Americans were not well informed on the Cruz birthplace, with 40% of Republicans saying he was born in the US (only 29% said Obama was born in the US). I don’t think that would be the case today. A YouGov poll from May of 2014 found that only 39% of Americans say someone with the birth situation of Ted Cruz (not named) would be eligible and 44% not sure.
Beyond a remnant of Hillary Clinton supporters, Democrats didn’t think Obama had eligibility problems. The only people who doubted Obama’s eligibility were people who wouldn’t have supported him anyway, and that is why the birther issue made no difference in Obama’s election. With Cruz, it’s just the opposite. The very people who might be ideologically inclined to support Cruz are the ones who don’t like anything foreign. The people who think Cruz is eligible are the ones unlike to vote for him anyway.
I think this hurts Cruz in the primaries, and no doubt Donald Trump does too, or he wouldn’t be repeatedly raising the issue.