2067: Challengers

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 14:13, 2 November 2018 by (talk) (Explanation: Added more new information and explained several of the unexplained minicomics)
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Use your mouse or fingers to pan + zoom. To edit the map, submit your ballot on November 6.
Title text: Use your mouse or fingers to pan + zoom. To edit the map, submit your ballot on November 6.

To see the full zoomable picture go to the original comic page.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Need more explanation of the subcomics. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Loading screen

This comic shows all challengers to the midterm elections hold on November 6, 2018. Many larger names provide a link to the homepage of the specific person, or an article about the election that candidate is participating in. The landmarks are taken from this Wikipedia page. Since the map is large there's also a loading screen present that can be seen while the map is loading.

There are also a total of nine comics embedded into the map at various locations. They are all loaded when you zoom in enough into the map to the appropriate section.


Washington, DC
[We can see Cueball standing in the middle of Washington, DC]
Cueball: I can see my house from here!
Subcomic probably referencing the White House.

Ballot Measures

Ballot Measures
Weed, California
[We can see Cueball holding a piece of paper 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
This probably refers to a ballot which would change how ballots are counted in the future. Lot of the proposed ideas sound complex and self-referential as well, therefore Megan just says that she doesn't wish to vote to any of them. This might refer to a fact that some people believe non of the choices on a ballot are good, and instead vote to no-one or deface their ballot papers


Seattle, Washington
[We can see a presentation by Cueball 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 a Gerrymandering, a tactic used to re-shape voting district boundaries to make sure one candidate prevails over the other. The name is conflated with Carly Rae Jepsen, who is a Canadian singer.

Attack Ads

Attack Ads
Abernathy, Texas
[We can see Black Hat and Cueball 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.


Storm Lake, Iowa
Queball: 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.


Primm, Nevada
[We can see a group of people]
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...
During campaign there are usually polling done by survey companies to determine each candidate's changes. This comic refers to the fact that usually the candidate that is behind in the polls usually says that they don't matter, as it's just a survey and not the final result. This is usually to encourage their voter base that it's still worth voting for them.


Richmond, Virginia
[Cueball is holding a sign that says: Abigail Spanberger for Congress]
Abigail Spanberger is a candidate running for Congress in Virginia's 7th district, which includes Richmond.

St Louis

St Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri
[We can see two people near the Gateway Arch talking]
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.


Chadron, Nebraska
[Woman standing at a podium]
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, these two things are conflated here to ludicrous effect.

Title text

The title text shows the hint that the reader can zoom in and move over all US-States revealing many details can't be seen at the overall view. Furthermore Randall does a call to vote: he requests people to take an active part in the elections to change that picture.


[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 Monroe, 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, shaplefiles election
ratings, and advice, and to @davidshor, @charlotteeffect, and @thedlcc for additional candidate data.


  • The comic header had changed to:
Find out where to vote: Vote.org
See what's on your ballot: BallotReady.org
This happened on the day this comic came out, as it up till the day before, had been a different reminder of the election only with the vote.org link.
  • The interactive picture does not work in many browsers when using the link www.xkcd.com, only the short xkcd.com works properly because the page uses 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.
  • 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"

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)