Hillary Clinton is consistently late. And voters are noticing.

Story highlights

  • Clinton has consistently run late for recent events that are meant to energize Democratic volunteers and voters in key states.
  • Clinton aides contend that sometimes the candidate runs late because of unavoidable reasons

Davie, Florida (CNN)At 3:30 p.m. Friday, one hour after Hillary Clinton was scheduled to take the stage at the gym at Broward College here, Vikesh Patel and three of his classmates left without catching a glimpse of the Democratic front-runner in this key Florida county. She was running late from a fundraiser.

"We've been here since one o'clock," said Patel, who doesn't know much about Clinton but whose parents have followed her and her husband for decades.
He and his classmates were also going to work the rally into a paper for a speech class they're taking.
    "I guess we'll have to go see someone else give a speech," Patel said.
    In the back of the gym, another student, Nichole Zapata, was rethinking her decision to bring her grandmother to see Clinton speak.
    "This is not a good impression," said Zapata, an undecided voter who plans to vote in 2016. "Hopefully she can win me over once she gets here, if she gets here. Not doing too good, though."
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    Clinton finally did take the stage more than an hour after she was supposed to, a pattern at recent events that are meant to energize Democratic volunteers and voters in key states.
    In Baton Rouge last week, Clinton ran an hour late for her organizing event. The same day in Little Rock, she appeared more than 30 minutes after the crowd in a sweltering gym expected her.
    The next day in Des Moines, Iowa, she walked on stage 40 minutes late in another gym where campaign staffers had carted in fans and bottled water to cool the overheated crowd.
    And at an event on substance abuse Thursday in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Clinton was 50 minutes behind schedule.
    Clinton aides contend that sometimes the candidate runs late because of obvious and unavoidable reasons -- spending time with voters, traffic issues and airplane technical issues -- but declined to directly comment on the tardiness.
    Attending a Clinton event is an investment of time that many other candidates' rallies don't require. Her security is tighter. Lines move more slowly as the Secret Service screens attendees. Sometimes campaign staffers, who see lines of people waiting to get in, are scrambling to hurry people inside before Clinton speaks.
    But that was not the case on Friday in Florida where doors for the event opened about three hours before Clinton spoke.
    "I knew she wouldn't be here before 3:30," said Broward County resident Barry Rabinowitz, who was holding a handmade "Hillary" sign, "that's how it works. That's par for the course."
    Democratic stalwarts like Rabinowitz seemed to mind less than undecided attendees, some of them assuming Clinton would be late.
    "I chose not to come until 2. I didn't want to come to an event for 4 hours," said Nelveta Skyers, a nurse from Hollywood, Florida who said she will volunteer for the Clinton campaign as she has done for many other Democratic candidates. "When I leave here I want to carry a message out there, back to my community, back to my job."
    Skyers also said she thought many others might not feel as strongly as she does.
    "If I came earlier I would be gone already," said Skyers.
    Pamela Sharpe, an undecided Democrat from West Palm Beach, came to Clinton's event to try to make up her mind on the candidate.
    "I'm thinking about getting ready to leave," she said 50 minutes after Clinton was supposed to go on. "I've been standing here a long, long time. There are not enough seats and I have other things to do."
    Sharpe said she was sure Clinton has been late for "fancier people than me" (Fact check: true. Clinton has also run late to fundraisers) and understands "that things do happen" but found her lateness annoying.
    "My mother did see her years ago and said she was lovely and thoroughly enjoyed hearing her," Sharpe said. "But my mother had more patience than me."
    Sharpe ended up leaving the event five minutes into Clinton's speech. She snapped a photo with a uniformed Secret Service agent on the way out -- the highlight of her day, she said.
    Clinton isn't especially unusual in her tardiness. It's a common affliction for candidates on the campaign trail.
    They're over-scheduled, running between rallies, private meetings with local supporter and officials, sitting for interviews and headlining fundraisers. Former President Bill Clinton was notorious for often being hours late for events, his former aides argue, because he would shake the hand of every last voter and supporter who came to see him.
    But it doesn't help the mood at her rallies at a time when Bernie Sanders, her much more punctual Democratic challenger, is making key early states very competitive and filling larger venues with more enthusiastic crowds.
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    Though Sanders is regularly on time for his events, he is also not as tightly scheduled as Clinton.
    "Do you know of any (politician) who gets there punctually?" joked Arthur Jacoby, a 73-year-old retiree from Boca Raton.
    "I was optimistic hoping she would make it in half an hour late. I think an hour to an hour and 15 minutes is probably realistic. ... But if I had a schedule, I wouldn't be here," Jacoby added.
    Walking out of the event, Zapata, the student who had hoped Clinton would win her over, was less than enthusiastic.
    "She could have been better," she said. "She made us wait over an hour for her. I understand she is on a tight schedule, but she could have at least apologized for being late."
    "It could have just been better," Zapata said, rushing out to get to her job at Starbucks.