Monday, October 12, 2015

Does Our Congressperson Show Up for Work?

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Sen. Marco Rubio, a 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during the inaugural Roast and Ride in Boone, Iowa, on June 6, 2015.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio, a 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during the inaugural Roast and Ride in Boone, Iowa, on June 6, 2015.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio may be catching flak for missing so many Senate votes, but it's House Democrats that seem to have the most trouble showing up for work.

The Big Crunch pulled the voting records for the last 25 years and found that Democrats in the House of Representatives tend to miss votes more often than their colleagues across the aisle (even voting "present" was enough for a representative to get credit for being there).
In the past year, 70 percent of Republicans showed up to vote for the vast majority of the more than 500 roll calls, while only 39 percent of Democrats had such solid voting records. 

And out of the 50 representatives with the worst absentee records, all but 16 were Democrats, despite the fact that Republicans hold the majority in the House.

Republican representatives missed about 2 percent of their votes in 2015, while Democrats missed about 4 percent. 

That pattern seems to hold true over not just the 114th Congress, but most groups of representatives since 1990. The only time that Democrats on average showed up more than Republicans was the 110th and 111th Congresses from 2007 to 2011, when the Democrats controlled both chambers for the first time since 1995.
Still, both groups are doing better than they were a few decades ago.

So what about the Senate, where it's more common for presidential hopefuls like Rubio to miss roll calls while out on the campaign trail? 

In fact, a U.S. senator with one of the worst voting records in recent history was the junior senator from Illinois who was elected president in 2008.
The overall rate of absenteeism is lower for the smaller and more prestigious chamber — just 3 percent compared to 4 percent for the House. 

Republicans also hold the Senate, but on average they have had a lower attendance rate than Democrats in that chamber in 2015. 

That's largely because of the outsize field of Republican presidential candidates. The three most absent senators this year are Rubio, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, all of whom are running for president.
Over the past years, the Senate shows an opposite pattern as the House. Generally, the minority party tends to show up to vote more than the majority party. That could be because in the smaller body, each vote means more and the minority party wants to maintain whatever influence it has.
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