In 2014, Obama has been late by more than 35 hours

President Obama has a problem with being late. This is pretty well-documented. A Google search for "obama always late" offers a multitude of articles. When he is late to an event, as he often is -- and was by more than an hour on Wednesday -- the hashtag #whyobamaislate often pops up on Twitter offering various "funny" explanations for the delay.

We decided to try to figure out just how late Obama actually is. The way we did that was pretty simple: Every time the president gives prepared public remarks, they are posted on the White House Web site. And, importantly, they're time-stamped. When he spoke at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit earlier Wednesday, he started at 10:17 a.m. But those remarks were supposed to begin at 10 a.m., according to his public schedule. Ergo, Obama was 17 minutes late. We pulled every time-stamped speech in 2014 and compared it to the schedule. Not everything on his schedule had time-stamped remarks, and vice versa, so we only included those events for which we had both pieces of data.

What we found: Obama has been a cumulative 2,121 minutes late to events in 2014. That's 35 hours, 21 minutes -- or almost a day and a half -- that his audiences have been waiting for him to speak. That's for a lot of events, though. On average, he is 11 minutes late to scheduled speaking appointments.

Here's how the total breaks down by month.

The president seems to have a particular problem with punctuality toward the middle of the week. His lateness spikes on Wednesdays and Thursdays -- at least in 2014.

Now, we know what you're thinking. Well, maybe someone was speaking before Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and that made him late. Fair enough. But in order to minimize this, we removed any events where it was clear that the starting point for his remarks wasn't set. For example, after bilateral meetings with foreign leaders, the president often talks to the media. Since those meetings start but don't end at a set time, we didn't include a lot of those. And we also included times when Obama was early. In April, he was often early to events (in part, perhaps, because he was traveling in Asia). In other words, given that we gathered data from almost 200 events, we think that it evens out.

Speaking of those 200 events! Here's how Obama's lateness (or earliness) evolved over the course of the year. You'll notice that Obama was pretty late on the last day that is charted, which was Wednesday. Which perhaps explains the inspiration for this article.

lateness

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
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Philip Bump · August 7