skip to main content

Presidential Candidates Miss Votes

We compared the missed votes of the 2008 through 2020 presidential candidates who were also serving in Congress at the time.

As primaries, caucuses, and the election near, candidates tend to miss more and more votes as they are out fundraising and campaigning.

We looked at corresponding time periods before the elections to see when presidential candidates begin to miss votes and how that trend continues up to the election. The chart below is organized from left to right by the number of days ahead of the each election. Each candidate’s missed vote percent is plotted over time, until the candidate ended his or her campaign. The elections are overlayed. The lines for the current candidates in the election stop at the vertical bar marked “Today.”

We post this information so you can fact-check claims you may hear about candidates missing votes. As you can see, this is normal, bipartisan, and, we think, totally fine. Many of the missed votes are procedural or the outcome may not have depended on the candidates’ votes, and the party leadership in each chamber may have scheduled votes strategically to make it harder only for candidates in the other party to be present. Most importantly, the candidates’ constituents may prefer they be president next year rather than vote today!

By The Numbers

To see how candidates step away from Congress during campaigns, we compared the missed votes in the preceding days to the day period before that, and corresponding time periods for past elections (i.e. to days ahead of the election and the days before that). You can see how the candidates voted before their run for president and during the most recent period of their campaigning.

Candidate Eligible Missed % Missed Percentile

Additional Notes

The data points in the time series chart are based on a sliding window with a normal distribution weighting (SD=14 days).

“House Median” / “Senate Median” is the median missed vote percent looking at all 435 representatives and 100 senators (respectively) during the indicated time period.

“Percentile” is the candidate’s percentile comparing their missed vote percent to all other representatives and senators in the same chamber during the same time period.