Americans say they are more deserving of a vacation than their leaders

August 07, 2014, 1:25 PM UTC

Americans overwhelmingly think that Congress doesn't deserve a vacation after accomplishing less than usual this term, but most do think that their own hard work this year entitles them to an August break

Most Americans say they deserve a vacation, but they aren’t sure President Obama does.  And when it comes to Congress – well, Congress just should have stayed in Washington instead of heading for home.  The latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds just 9% of Americans believing that Congress has been working hard enough to deserve its August recess.

There isn’t much partisan disagreement on this question.   But Congress has been vilified for its partisanship and inability to pass legislation, and its approval rating has been in or near single digits for much of the past few years.  This week, only 8% approve of the way Congress is handling its job.

And this Congress in particular is seen as doing even less than usual.   59% believe it has accomplished even less than it typically does (at this time last year, 54% thought that).   And Republicans, whose party is in control of the House of Representatives agree with Democrats, whose party controls the Senate, that little has been done. 

Vacations for public leaders are often a sensitive subject, and may be becoming even more so.  Last year,   Americans said on average a President deserves three weeks of vacation a year (that’s more than the average Americans worker). This year, Americans are loath to agree that Barack Obama has worked hard enough to deserve even one week of August vacation.  That is mostly due to a very clear partisan response.  Two in three Democrats say the President has worked hard enough.  Just 12% of Republicans agree.

Men and women disagree on this question.  Just a third of men say the President has worked hard enough to deserve a week off, compared with 46% of women. 

Perhaps elected officials need to remember that many Americans don’t take summer vacations at all.  In this poll, just 38% say they are taking a summer vacation.  The percentage is highest among those with the highest family incomes.  More young adults than senior citizens are taking a vacation this summer, and nearly half in the Northeast are planning to vacation. 

Americans’ accomplishments so far this year are fairly average for them:  half say they’ve accomplished pretty much what they always have at this point in the year, with one in four claiming to have accomplished more than usual, and one in four admitting they’ve gotten less done. Those under 30 are the most sure they’ve done more than usual (39%), while higher percentages of older adults say they have gotten less than usual done.

But have they done enough to deserve a week off?  Absolutely.  Nearly two in three think they have. 

Higher income Americans are especially likely to think they deserve a vacation.  And women, who are somewhat less likely than men to say they are taking a vacation, are more likely than men to say they deserve one.   Even 59% of those who say they personally have accomplished less than usual by this time of the year say they deserve a week of vacation.  

And unlike the question about whether Barack Obama deserves a vacation, Americans of both parties agree that they personally should have one.

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Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.