2067: Challengers

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Use your mouse or fingers to pan + zoom. To edit the map, submit your ballot on November 6th.
Title text: Use your mouse or fingers to pan + zoom. To edit the map, submit your ballot on November 6th.

  • To experience the interactivity of the game, visit the original comic.


Loading screen

Regarding the midterm elections held in the United States on November 6, 2018, this comic shows probably all challengers, which are candidates running against the current officeholder, as well as those running in open seats where a change of the major party from the previous election could occur. It is the second of three consecutive comics that deal with this election.

Randall states on top that "The bigger the candidate's name is,"

  • the higher the office is in command structure, and
  • the better their chances of success as a challenger are

While an office can be subclassified by order from state down to county, the guesses on better chances to success can be only based on surveys before the elections.

All names provide an indirect link to the first Google Search result on that specific person and position. As common, Democratic candidates are shown in blue text, Republican candidates in red, and independent candidates are in green.

The landmarks shown in gray are essentially links to Wikipedia pages containing coordinates pointing to the US in their body (both visible on the site and hidden in the wiki source) that point to places in the US. If they contain more than one coordinate then the first one is used, for example the List of the major 3000-meter summits of the United States page is shown in Alaska, and the xkcd page is linked near Boston, Massachusetts. This list seems to be auto generated from a Wikipedia dump made possibly before 2017. There doesn't seem to be any other criteria as the list also contains orphaned wikipedia pages that only contain hidden coordinates in their sources pointing to the US, for example this one. Wikipedia pages containing these coordinates can be easily enumerated on the site in blocks of 500 at a time.

Since the map is large there's also a loading screen present that can be seen while the map is loading. There are a total of nine comics embedded into the map at various locations. They are showed when zooming into the map at the appropriate section.

The title text shows the hint that the reader can zoom in and move over all fifty states to reveal details which can't be easily seen in the overall view. Furthermore, while a typical opensource and interactive mapping project might provide on-site means to edit the data to render, here Randall called upon Americans to use their vote as the official method of changing how the picture ought to look.

Attack Ads[edit]

Attack Ads

Location: Lubbock, Texas

[Black Hat and Cueball are talking.]
Black Hat: Starting on November 7th, we're going to blanket the airwaves with attack ads.
Cueball: Isn't the election on November 6th?
Black Hat: Yeah, the advertising rates go way down after that.

Attack ads are campaign advertising that usually attack the opponents' campaign instead of promoting one's own. The comic also refers to the fact that media outlets usually spike their advertising prices during the campaign, and it becomes cheaper afterwards. However, there's usually no point in advertising afterwards for a campaign as the polling has already taken place. This may also be a callback to 1130: Poll Watching.

Lubbock was the place where some attack ads were shown few months before the election. Texas is also notable as in 2008 during the Democratic Party primary Hillary Clinton started running attack ads aimed at Barack Obama, who later became President, causing controversy.

Ballot Measures[edit]

Ballot Measures

Location: Weed, California

[Cueball is holding a piece of paper and talking to Megan.]
Cueball: Question #1 voids all 2018 ballot measures except itself.
Cueball: Question #2 retroactively lowers the threshold for passing ballot measures to 5%.
Cueball: Question #3 requires a re-vote on all failed ballot measures a day later.
Cueball: Question #4 requires a re-vote on all passed ballot measures a day later.
Cueball: Question #5 bans those annoying phone scammers, but also says that if an odd number of ballot measures pass, Christmas is canceled.
Cueball: Question #6 makes a "yes" count as a "no" on odd-numbered ballot measures.
Cueball: Question #7 does nothing but counts as a ballot measure passing.
Cueball: Question #8 says that-
Megan: I'm leaving these all blank and voting against whoever approves ballot measures.

Ballot measures are proposed laws that are approved and rejected by voters. In California, apart from the elections to Congressional and state offices, there will also be 12 extra propositions for the voters in this election. Sometimes propositions also include changing how voting should be done in subsequent elections. There are people who believe proposals on US ballots are asked in a very convoluted way and could be made simpler.

In this comic a lot of the proposals sound complex and self-referential as well, therefore Megan just says that she doesn't wish to vote to any of them and would actually like to ban people creating ballot papers like this. Not voting might also refer to the scenario where people believe none of the choices during an election are good, and instead vote to no-one or deface their ballot papers in protest.

The name of the town chosen, Weed, California, may be a pun on how marijuana is legal in California. However, Weed is a real town in Northern California.



Location: Bellingham, Washington

[Cueball holds a presentation to a group of people including White Hat and Hairbun sitting at an office desk. The presentation shows a map of a district.]
Cueball: Under my new Carlymandering plan, we'll create five red districts, five blue districts, and one district which contains only Carly Rae Jepsen.
Hairbun: That seems fair.

This refers to gerrymandering, a tactic used to re-shape voting district boundaries to make sure one candidate prevails over the other. "Carlymandering" is a malamanteau which combines gerrymandering with Carly Rae Jepsen, a Canadian singer, whose single "Party for One" was released the day before the comic's publication. Although the song is about partying (e.g., going out) alone, the joke is that it could also mean a one-person political party, and she would have a full gerrymandered district to herself.

Jepsen lives in Vancouver, which is just on the other side of the US border in Canada. The comic is placed in Whatcom County, which is notable for Point Roberts, a peninsula which, although part of Washington state, is actually an exclave of the US, as it's surrounded by sea on three sides, and has its only land border with Vancouver to the north. The comic might refer to the fact that Jepsen could solely live in this exclave. However, since she is not a US citizen, she can neither vote nor be elected in US elections.



Location: Washington, DC

[Cueball is standing in the middle of Washington, DC]
Cueball: I can see my House from here!

Comic is probably referencing the White House, the residence of the President, located in Washington, DC. This could also refer to the Capitol Building, the home of the House of Representatives, also located in Washington, DC.



Location: Primm, Nevada

[A group of five people are standing]
Blondie: Remember: The only poll that counts is the one on Election Day. And the ones that help campaigns allocate resources. And the ones that drive media coverage and the ones that inform us all about what our fellow members of the public believe. And the ones that...

The word "poll" has two distinct meanings in regard to elections -- the place where you go to cast your official vote is called a poll, as are the unofficial surveys done to try to gauge how people are likely to vote.

During campaign there is usually polling done by survey companies to determine each candidate's chances of winning. This comic refers to the fact that often the candidate that is behind in the unofficial polls tells their electorate that these polls don't matter, as they are just surveys and not the actual final result. This is usually to encourage their voter base that it's still worth voting for them. The joke here is that Blondie doesn't finish here but tells the electorate that other polls are actually also important.

Nevada is one of the states where there is only a slim difference between the candidates based on polls hence the need for each candidate to rally their supporters and make sure everyone is voting.



Location: Chadron, Nebraska

[Megan is standing at a podium with her arm raised]
Megan: If elected, I vow to find and punish the voters responsible.

Often candidates make promises of things they will do when they are elected. Vowing to find and punishing people responsible for a certain action, oftentimes criminals, is also common. However, certain performance artists aside, these two things are generally not conflated, as they are here, to ludicrous effect.

Putting this comic into Nebraska might refer to the fact that in 2016 Nebraska voted to repeal the death penalty ban, allowing the reinstatement of the death penalty, also called capital punishment, in the state.



Location: Storm Lake, Iowa

Cueball: The midterms are so stressful.
Megan: I just hope J.D. Scholten wins.
Cueball: Why?
Megan: Google Steve King.
[Cueball looking at his phone]
Cueball: Yikes.

J.D. Scholten is a Democratic candidate for Iowa's 4th Congressional District. Steve King is a Republican representative who has stirred controversy due his endorsement of candidates, in other countries, who were members of parties with white supremacist ties, and he has explicitly and frequently stated concern with the American society being destroyed by "other people's babies".
King would go on to win re-election by a narrow margin.



Location: Richmond, Virginia

[Cueball is holding a sign that says: Abigail Spanberger for Congress]

Abigail Spanberger was a candidate running for Congress in Virginia's 7th district, which includes Richmond. Based on polls she had a chance to beat her opponent, and she then became the first Democrat in her district after 50 years of Republican control, beating out Republican incumbent David Brat by 2 percentage points. Cueball probably was trying to encourage people to vote for her on election day.

St Louis[edit]

St Louis

Location: Saint Louis, Missouri

[Two people next to the Gateway Arch are talking]
Cueball: Ah, Saint Louis. Home of America's largest... Whatever that thing is.

Saint Louis, Missouri is the location of the Gateway Arch, the largest arch in the United States. (It's also one of the most recognizable arches in Saint Louis, according to 1368: One Of The.) Since in this comic they are next to the side of the arch, it is possible its sheer size stops them from determining what it is, although they should probably know. An alternate interpretation is that they are baffled by the existence of a giant, seemingly-useless steel arch, and do not know what to refer to it as.

The area surrounding the Arch was known as Jefferson National Expansion Memorial until February 2018, when it was renamed to Gateway Arch National Park.


[A loading screen appears shortly before the large picture has rendered. We can see an American flag in an oval badge with the text:]
I voted
[And beneath a text saying:]
2018 Midterm
The bigger the candidate's name, the higher the office and the better their chances of success.
[In a frame a zoomable map shows all US-States (Alaska and Hawaii are shown in the left lower corner.) The candidates are shown colored mainly in red and blue at different sizes. Each state has many landmarks shown in gray. There are also many comics embedded into the picture.]
By Randall Munroe, Kelsey Harris, and Max Goodman
Landmarks from Wikipedia. Success odds estimated from district voting history, special election
results, and seat ratings. Thank you to Dailykos Elections for their spreadsheets, shapefiles, election
ratings, and advice, and to @davidshor, @charlotteeffect, and @thedlcc for additional candidate data.


  • When this comic was released the Header text changed to help people on how to vote in the upcoming election. See this trivia from the 2068: Election Night comic, released after this one.
  • The interactive picture did not work in many browsers when using the link www.xkcd.com, only the short xkcd.com worked properly because the page used an absolute link to a file map-data.json at the domain xkcd.com which is not allowed from www.xkcd.com according to Cross-origin resource sharing. This was later fixed by using a relative link only working inside the called domain.
  • The internal comics have a kind of "comic" inside the map-data.json file that contains all of the details shown on the map. All other locations, including politicians and landmarks inside the map-data.json have a kind of "label"
  • There are a total of
    • 9 subcomics
    • 17,643 labels, including:
      • 13,339 landmarks (gray)
      • 2,845 Democratic candidates (blue)
      • 1,456 Republican candidates (red)
      • 3 independent candidates (green)
  • The three independent candidates are:
    • Alaska Congress candidate Alyse Galvin
    • Texas State House District 101 candidate James Allen
    • Alabama State Senate District 10 candidate Craig Ford
  • The largest names on the map (based on font size) are:
    • Michelle Lujan Grisham, Governor candidate for New Mexico (7.187)
    • Beto O'Rourke, Texan US Senate candidate (6.773)
    • Matt Rosendale, Montanan US Senate candidate (6.773)
    • Gretchen Whitmer, Governor candidate for Michigan (6.48)
  • There's a landmark label called "xkcd" near Boston, Massachusetts
  • Randall seems to have collected the Wikipedia links from an older copy of Wikipedia, as some links are to old article titles. For example, in Cupertino, California, "Apple Campus 2" is shown instead of "Apple Park", even though that article was moved to its current title in February 2017.
  • An overview highlighting some parts:
CarlymanderingBallot MeasuresPollsPunishAttack AdsScholtenSt LouisHouseSpanbergerLink to xkcd's wikipageIndependent candidateIndependent candidateIndependent candidate
About this image
Map of interesting features on the comic (Red X: comic strip, Green X: independent candidate, Blue X: xkcd landmark)

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


New category elections

I've created a new category for elections: Category:Elections. Please help and add this category to other comics I've missed so far. --Dgbrt (talk) 09:47, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Further discussions

Calling it now: lots of complaining about campaigning, by folks who prefer jokes. KangaroOS 06:25, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Count me in. Though I feel I'm one of a group with a legitimate gripe, I'm not American, and thus am not affected by nor have any stake in this election, and to whom this election stuff is largely like the "Wah wah wah" stuff from Peanuts when adults talk. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:58, 5 November 2018 (UTC)

There are hidden comics. I've found three so far: Attack ad comic in north half of Texas. Ballot measure comic in north half of California. Gerrymandering comic in north half of Washington. IronyIsGood 06:16, 2 November 2018 (AEST) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Steve King comic in north-western Iowa
St Louis comic on the border of Missouri and Illinois (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
"Abigail Spanberger for Congress", just below Richmond, Virginia 08:17, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
"Only Poll That Counts" comic on border of California and Nevada, South West of Las Vegas 08:21, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
"I can see my house from here" in Washington DC 09:17, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
"If elected..." North Western Nebraska. -- ManSpider (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
"Carlymandering plan..." North Washington. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Non-Republican/Democrat candidate found in Alaska, in green - only one I've found so far. 09:08, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

There is also one southwest of Dallas (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Serious bug report:

This damn thing must be geolocked or something, because apparently not being an American means I can't edit the map. I can't even get around it with a VPN. Help? 10:18, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

This map will be changed by US citizens on November 6, 2018. Nobody can edit this map at xkcd. --Dgbrt (talk) 10:33, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
The complain was about the fact non-US citizens can't "edit" it by voting. -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:42, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Loading screen

please, include the loading screen in the explanation. --valepert (talk) 11:19, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Someone has mentioned it at the first paragraph. This was also the first version uploaded by the BOT: File:challengers.png. --Dgbrt (talk) 12:09, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Note that loading screen is only thing you see if you have old browser ... I suspect the used javascript is ES6. -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:43, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
"To see the full zoomable picture go to the original comic page." - really? I had to come HERE to see what xkcd was supposed to look like, under the assumption that a permanent "loading" message wasn't much of a joke. I'm glad there's something HERE that I can actually see. 08:01, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

Links to politicans

I'm not sure if we all haven't recognized that all larger names provide a link to a homepage. Maybe Randall has fixed an error right now. Nonetheless I've mentioned this in the first paragraph. --Dgbrt (talk) 12:26, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

It seems most links just use Google like this example: https://google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&btnI=1&q=kyrsten+sinema+senate+arizona which shows directly the first search result. --Dgbrt (talk) 13:41, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

What's with all the place names?

There are an immense number of placenames on the map - many of these look to be jokes. Maybe specific places you can go to vote or something? What's the deal with that? SteveBaker (talk) 12:58, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

These are US Landmarks as mentioned at the first paragraph. If you find a place that doesn't belong to this list it should be mentioned. --Dgbrt (talk) 13:10, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Some further investigations on the json file gave me this:
  • 9 embedded comics
  • 17,643 labels, much more than the 2,500 landmarks. This includes all names so far.
Most links are just links to Google. --Dgbrt (talk) 13:41, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
I just can't believe my hometown in on it... with a wlink to it's wikipedia page. Linker (talk) 13:49, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Besides actual place names, there are a lot of radio stations (Wxxx codes). Also, there's XKCD just on the left of the Boston label (Massachusetts). Is that where Randall lives? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
There are other things, as well. Next to Ogden, Utah, there's a link to the Wikipedia article for the "Hi-Fi Murders," which is an event, not a landmark. 16:21, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the landmarks are just all of the wikipedia pages that contain some kind of location information. That's why for example the wikipedia pages "List of largest summits" point to Alaska where the largest summit actually is. Similarly the {w|Xkcd} wikipedia page has a GPS coordinate in the 'Inspired activities' section, which points to Boston, the same place where the XKCD label is on the map. While there might be some easter egg there, I think the grey labels are simply just wikipedia pages with coordinates or other geolocatable texts in their contents. Sztupy (talk) 16:54, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Went through the map-data.json file and confirmed that all gray labels match the wikipedia link, so I don't think there's going to be any intentional easter eggs there. Similarly can't find any discrepancies between the candidate's name and their google search results - they all seem to be autogenerated Sztupy (talk) 17:51, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Any speculation as to why all the place names were included? These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 16:23, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

Subcomics layout

I know the Editor FAQ about tables, but am I the only one who thinks the previous table layout for the subcomics was much easier to read? I find that with the current list layout, it is more difficult to ignore the transcript for those of us who don't need to read it. 14:31, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Could make the transcript collapsible maybe, and also move the images back from thumbnails into the main body, so they are close to the explanations? Sztupy (talk) 14:47, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
This is one of those overwhelming comics that can't be covered by a FAQ in general. But a table is still a bad layout because the text will grow and it's a horror to read it on a smartphone. Nonetheless the layout still needs some improvements. --Dgbrt (talk) 17:45, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
I've done an update to the layout. You often think too much about tables, a simple floating text with less headers looks much better. Right now the pictures are larger than the text, but I'm sure there will be more text soon. Otherwise we could reduce the size of the pictures slightly. --Dgbrt (talk) 18:00, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Any speculation as to why all the interesting places were included on the map? And are they meant to be geographically correct? The ones in my neck of the woods are just conveniently placed lists, nowhere near their proper locations.

Candidate in wrong place?

Noticed Robert Arlett, the Republican challenger for US Senate from Delaware, is listed in Washington DC. -- 15:36, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

There are a bunch of errors we are going to need an errata section. Eastern Iowa has a link to the "murder of Yangjie Li" a murder that happened in 2016 in Germany maybe they meant the "Murder of Shao Tong" from 2014 a murder of one Chinese student of another while at university in Iowa. -- Echo Hotel (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Yes, if you check the source of that wikipedia page you can see that it has a GPS coordinate set that points to Hollywood Bld, Iowa City. It was likely added by mistake from the content creator and was never removed. Sztupy (talk) 18:32, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Carlymandering Carly is Canadian, so not eligible to vote in US elections. The result in the Carly district should be zero all tie, usually resulting in drawing lots for the winner. Any non-zero result would be clear evidence of election fraud. 16:27, 2 November 2018 (UTC)


Alternately, the "I can see my House from here" could refer to the U.S. House of Representatives, in Washington DC, which theoretically represents all US voters. Many of the ballots being cast are to fill House of Representatives seats at the Federal level. Leftcontact (talk) 17:23, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Speck in the title image It looks like there's a speck of minuscule text in the comic title header image, in the lower right side. Is this readable to anyone, or is he messing with us? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nahh, it's just some random pixels, probably left there from az earlier edit of the subtitle: [1] -- 10:59, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

Blank map? The map is blank on my iPad, is this happening to anyone else? Herobrine (talk) 23:21, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

iPad 3 released in Spring 2013 here, max iOS of I think 9.4.3, and all I get is the "Loading..." image. I partially suspected the lack of anything might be the gag, but had figured on the truth, that it was probably one of the more complicated comics that don't do anything on my iPad (like Umlaut or Hoverboard or that Garden one, though those were on my iPad 1, and the latter didn't do anything on my computer, either). NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:53, 5 November 2018 (UTC)

Is he taking petitions to change landmarks? Im going to assume YES. It seems like the most Randall thing to do. Why wouldnt he? I would like to stake my claim as first and offer replacing John F. Kennedy High School (Mt. Angel, Oregon) with John F. Kennedy High School (Bloomington, Minnesota). Choochoobob123 (talk) 04:41, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

Map of interesting features It is nice to have the "map of interesting features", but it is not explained at all. There is not even a key to distinct the red, blue and green X-es. They seemingly all indicate the comics to zoom in, when you read the line above. Only Trivia helps to give an idea, what they could stand for.--Lupo (talk) 07:30, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

You can hover over them for a tooltip (only works on desktop), and click for a link Sztupy (talk) 11:48, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

Higher office v better chances.

So there are these two criteria for font size--higher office and better chances. One wonders what's the formula for weighting the two.

And why not map to two parameters, for example using font size for office, uh, height, and using color saturation for chances of success?

I'm quite ready for someone to jump in and explain how this has been answered, or is moot. --Radiowonderland (talk) 16:40, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

If it were me, I would have multiplied the two metrics. 21:27, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
Higher offices are simple, predictions about chances are more like looking through the looking glass... Randall, like most of us failed on this in 2016. Nonetheless I started a paragraph on this issue, help me to fix. --Dgbrt (talk) 23:12, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

Header text

@Dgbrt can you explain this edit, removing the additional header text? That was in the header at the time I added it here. –P1h3r1e3d13 (talk) 23:24, 5 November 2018 (UTC)

I've seen the xkcd page shortly after this comic was released and often after that but I have never seen a statement like "I'm frightened by the direction the President and his party are taking our country..." at the header. Thus I'm convinced that this blockquote was a fake. Randall does a neutral call up to vote, not more. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:08, 6 November 2018 (UTC)
I don't know whether your insights into Randall's psyche are more trustworthy than my eyes, but it was there. I copied and pasted it. Wayback Machine didn't catch it, so I don't know how to convince you, stranger on the internet, and it's not worth an edit war. I suppose there are also other possibilities, like a brief hack or a browser caching bug? –P1h3r1e3d13 (talk) 23:38, 6 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm happy we can discuss this because I don't presume that a registered member tries to fool readers here. But you must have seen this somewhere else, definitely not at xkcd.com. Furthermore Randall never would use such a wording, and this year he did just a neutral call to vote. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:19, 7 November 2018 (UTC)

Missing Candidate

Not sure if I'm missing something, but Scott Walker is the current incumbent running for Wisconsin governor against Tony Evers. He doesn't appear to be on the map at all. 00:08, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

The candidates on the map are only challengers, not incumbents. –P1h3r1e3d13 (talk) 00:53, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

"This refers to gerrymandering, a tactic used to re-shape voting district boundaries to make sure one candidate prevails over the other." It's a bit more nefarious than that. It's usually done to give one party many narrow wins over another party and then give the other party a few landslide victories. The net result is one party getting many more representatives than their proportion of votes would suggest. 21:05, 14 November 2018 (UTC)