The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

More than a quarter of Marco Rubio’s missed votes came before he was a candidate

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, during a campaign stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 4. (Thais Llorca/European Pressphoto Agency)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has missed more votes than his Senate colleagues so far this year by a hefty margin. Of the 275 votes he could have taken, he's taken 191 -- missing 84 votes, or 30.5 percent.

And he's starting to be attacked for it on the 2016 campaign trail, by both his GOP opponents and Democrats.

As we've noted before, presidential candidates missing votes is nothing new. Barack Obama has one of the all-time worst voting records, by virtue of his being present in the Senate (and not campaigning) for such a short period of time.

But for the 2016 race, Rubio is exceptional. Of the five current senators running for the presidency, Rubio's 2015 attendance record is the worst. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has missed 62 votes and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) 68 -- 22.4 and 24.5 percent, respectively. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have each missed fewer than 10 votes.

Asked to explain why he missed a vote on a defense spending bill, Rubio pointed to the campaign as his excuse. "Guys, I’m running for president," he said. "When I miss votes, it’s not because I'm on vacation."

But a lot of those missed votes can't be easily tied to his presidential campaign schedule, and many came before he was even a candidate.

Nearly one-third of the votes Rubio has missed in 2015 came before he launched his campaign. Between Jan. 1 and April 12, the day before he announced, the Senate held 135 votes. Rubio missed 25 of them, meaning that even before his campaign began, he missed more votes than Paul or Sanders have all year.

After his April 13 announcement, the Senate had 140 votes, of which Rubio missed 34.

Rubio's presidential campaign preparations preceded his actual announcement, of course. And there's a lot that happens behind the scenes, even once he's a declared candidate.

That said, a number of the missed votes since April 13 happened on days when Rubio wasn't traveling or didn't have a public event. Using data from the National Journal, Rubio's Twitter account and campaign press releases gathered at 4President.us, we compared days on which he missed votes to his public schedule.

As with most presidential candidates, Rubio's schedule had him criss-crossing the country for fundraisers and voter outreach. On 15 of the 34 days he missed votes since his campaign began, though, it's not clear what Rubio was doing for his campaign. (A table of the days of missed votes and Rubio's public events is below.)

In an e-mail to The Post, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said of his boss: "[A]ny time he's missed votes this year, it's because he's been on the campaign trail."

Asked how that explained missed votes in January, Conant replied, "He was doing campaign-related events on every day that he's missed votes this year. Prior to his formal announcement, we told people that he was seriously considering running for president and taking the steps necessary to run a competitive race." Conant also noted the point we made above, that many other senators seeking the presidency missed a large number of votes beforehand.

It is true that Marco Rubio is very much not on vacation. At the moment, he has two full-time jobs, as do four other members of the Senate. The extent to which Rubio should be faulted for neglecting his first job in service to his second will be determined by Republican primary voters.


Missed vote Rubio location (if known) Event
Apr 13 Florida Announcement
Apr 16 NYC, Boston Fundraising
Apr 20 Texas Fundraising
Apr 22
Apr 27 Los Angeles Campaigning, fundraising
Apr 28
May 11
May 12
May 13 NYC Speech
May 18
Jun 4 Connecticut Bush Awards
Jun 9
Jun 10
Jun 11 Utah Romney retreat
Jun 15
Jun 16
Jun 17
Jun 22 Texas Fundraising
Jun 24
Jul 7 Chicago, Iowa Speech
Jul 8 Iowa Campaigning
Jul 9 Iowa Campaigning
Jul 13
Jul 14 Unknown Fundraising
Jul 16
Jul 21 New Hampshire Campaigning
Jul 27 South Carolina Campaigning
Sep 8 New Hampshire Campaigning
Sep 17
Sep 28 Florida Campaigning
Sep 30 Money deadline
Oct 1 Iowa Campaigning
Oct 5 NYC Speech
Oct 6 NYC, New Hampshire Campaigning
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