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C. Eugene Emery Jr.
By C. Eugene Emery Jr. March 8, 2016

Right to Rise correct on comparison between 'worst attendance records' of Marco Rubio, Barack Obama

A commercial by the super PAC Right to Rise USA shows a silhouette of Sen. Marco Rubio and criticizes him for his lack of foreign policy experience.

"Way too often, Rubio didn't even show up," the announcer says as a box on the screen tags Rubio as having "one of the worst attendance records in the Senate."

Almost imperceptibly, the silhouette morphs into President Barack Obama as the announcer asks, "What other junior senator had the same resume?"

Right to Rise USA is the super PAC that supported Jeb Bush, who has given up on his quest for the White House this year. According to the TV Political Ad Archive, it ran at least 400 times, mostly in South Carolina before Bush dropped out.

We decided to see if both Rubio and Obama have had similar attendance records in the Senate.

First, a word about terminology. In political circles, attendance is usually determined not by the number of days you show up for work in the Senate, but by the number of votes you miss. We'll use that standard.

Rubio has been dealing with the attendance issue since the summer, when he had been missing more than half of all Senate roll call votes.

Here's the rundown as of March 4, according to, which has a running tally of voting records for members of Congress.

Rubio has missed 14.9 percent of the votes since taking office in January 2011. The typical senator currently serving has missed just 1.7 percent.

His record has never been exemplary, but it really deteriorated starting in the first quarter of 2015, when he missed 18.5 percent, then 32.9 percent in the second quarter, 53.8 percent in the third and 58.2 percent in the fourth. Since January he has missed more than nine in 10 votes.

Obama, during his four years as a senator, missed 24.2 percent of his votes. During his time in the Senate, the median for missed votes was 2.2 percent.

Sen. Obama had a great voting record until the second quarter of 2007, when he missed 17.9 percent of the votes, followed by 56.3 percent in the third quarter. By the end of the fourth quarter, with the election a year away, he was missing 89.4 percent.

This chart shows the percent of missed votes for comparable quarters during the campaign season for both senators as the clock ticked down to election day. We've highlighted who missed more votes in each quarter.

Quarters before election

Obama in 2005-08

Rubio in 2013-16


0.0% of 81 votes

0.0% of 92 votes


6.7% of 89 votes

1.3% of 76 votes


1.3% of 76 votes

9.3% of 43 votes


0.8% of 120 votes

5.0% of 80 votes


0.0% of 83 votes

12.9% of 93 votes


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1.9% of 107 votes

13.0% of 123 votes


1.4% of 73 votes

3.7% of 54 votes


0.0% of 16 votes

6.3% of 96 votes


2.4% of 126 votes

18.5% of 135 votes


17.9% of 112 votes

32.9% of 85 votes


56.3% of 119 votes

53.8% of 52 votes


89.4% of 85 votes

58.2% of 67 votes


36.5% of 85 votes

90.3% of 31 votes


84.4% of 77 votes



87.2% of 47 votes


Election quarter

0.0% of 4 votes


More to the point for this fact check, GovTrack has ranked Rubio compared to his colleagues based on the number of votes he's missed in the past year and the year before that. The Florida senator is in the 100th percentile — the worst — for the 12-month period and in the 95th percentile — almost as bad — for the previous 12 months.

At this stage of Obama's campaign, the Illinois senator's record for missed votes in the previous 12 months put him in the 98th percentile. He was in the 32nd percentile the year before that.

Our ruling

Right to Rise USA said that both Rubio and Obama had "one of the worst attendance records in the Senate."

The data show that both missed a lot of votes while running for president. Rubio started skipping votes a lot earlier than Obama did, but at this stage of the campaign, Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator in the past year, and Obama was missing more votes than 98 percent of his colleagues.

Their attendance records certainly qualify as "one of the worst."

We rate the statement True.

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Right to Rise correct on comparison between 'worst attendance records' of Marco Rubio, Barack Obama

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