This picture is making the rounds on Facebook:

Presidential Vacation Days

[Picture of George W. Bush] 32% [Picture of Barack Obama] 5.2%
Percentage of presidency spent on vacation.
Guess which one conservatives call "The Vacationer in Chief"?

While I do recall hearing about the large number of so called vacation days George Bush took on Meet the Press, I am slightly skeptical that President Obama's vacation days were counted in the same manner.

Are these figures accurate?

What method was used to arrive at these figures?

  • 30
    The part of the claim I didn't believe: that conservatives call Obama the "Vacationer in Chief". I was wrong.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 4:32
  • 14
    I have noticed a tendency (and I wouldn't limit it to conservatives) to attempt to attack the new incumbent by re-using the most successful attacks against the previous incumbent, even if they don't necessarily apply.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 22:34
  • @Oddthinking or more likely by defendants of the incumbent to tweak "facts" to make it appear as if the attack doesn't apply. Like in this case.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 13:23
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    "Time away from the White House" is not the same as saying vacation. The statistic is intentionally misleading since it counts all days Bush was working from Texas as "vacation" whereas it treats Obama with a double standard and only counts the days he was actually "on vacation". To put that in perspective, if George Bush hosted the President of Russia at his home in Texas, it was considered a vacation day. Whereas President Obama could read a security briefing in the morning, then go swimming in Martha's Vineyard, hang out with his family and have dinner with friends and they'd call it a work
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 22:04
  • 9
    @Matt If that's true, post it as an answer, with appropriate evidence and links to references etc that show he was working in Texas for at least 900 of the thousand or so days counted as vacation days. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 11:33

2 Answers 2


There is abundant evidence that Obama takes less vacation than past presidents. George W Bush was notorious for taking a lot of time away from the Whitehouse, most of it at his ranch. Here are some articles and quotes:

Factcheck.org . Obama spent 26 days on vacation in his first year in office: Reagan 42, George W Bush 77, George HW Bush 40.

CBS News Obama spent 61 days on vacation in his first 31 months in office: George W Bush 180, Reagan 112, Clinton 28.

MSNBC Obama took 84 days vacation in his first term. George W Bush took over 1000 days vacation in his two terms. This equates to 5.7% for Obama and 34% for Bush (we'll use 365 days a year as the basis on the assumption that the President works 7 days a week)

  • 4
    I've cleaned all comments. To all: according to our Privileges section, you should only use comments to request clarification from the author or leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving this post. Please review the When shouldn't I comment? section and act appropriately in the future.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 21:11
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    I wonder how weekends are factored into this.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 22:46
  • 2
    @Avi Looks like one of the sources the CBS article uses states Obama's 11 trips/27 days at Camp David up through December 2009 were "mostly weekends and cannot fairly be counted as vacations." I couldn't find any mention of GWB's weekend count. cbsnews.com/news/can-a-president-really-take-a-vacation
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 18:40
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    This answer would be much more useful if it explained what criteria were used in each case to define a vacation day. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 10:19
  • 1
    the MSNBC numbers for bushes vacation time are much higher relative to the other two's numbers for his first years in office. Could you explain the discrepancy? did he start taking significantly more vacation time later in his carrier? if so then it would be better to compare obama's 2 term vacation time to see if Obama also started to take more vacation second term. Also, as mentioned, does time spent at camp david count as a vacation, or was he working from a different location?
    – dsollen
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 14:48

Mostly correct

There is no date on when the claim was for or when it was made, so it is impossible to know if the Obama percentage is correct at whatever time its author made them.

But based on the entire two terms of both presidents and according to Cleveland.com:

  • George W. Bush spent some part of 1,020 days away (35%), including 149 days at Camp David.

  • Obama spent some part of 328 days away (11%), including 93 days at Camp David.

This is around the same amount as claimed for Bush, but more than twice the number claimed for Obama. However, the central point of Obama's vacation length being less holds true.

A couple additional points:

First, as CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller says,

But a President is never really on "vacation." The job and responsibilities go with him wherever he is.

Unlike legislators, the President must be available 24/7 for security or or other urgent matters. Since "work on the road" is essentially a job requirement, it's hard to say what part of the President's time are spend working vs vacationing.

Second, as Politifact points out, the "vacation" patterns of Bush and Obama were very different since Bush owned a secondary residence in Texas which accounted for a large part of his "vacation" days.

Obama doesn’t own a vacation home, unlike Bush, who owned his ranch. So while Bush essentially used the ranch as as a working White House, Obama has traveled to a variety of destinations

EDIT: There is a additional suggestion by the image that conservatives call Obama "vacationer in chief". That was done by at least the Washington Examiner.

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