Final Results
January 12, 2009

CNN reports popular votes in whole percentages, and by using their results we were unable to detemine a winner. Therefore the crack contest staff (some would say "cracked") of decided to switch to the results published by The New York Times, which records tenths of percents. The fractional difference awards the win to G. Gordon Riggy, whom we certify as the winner of this contest with no further ado, undo, or redo. Congratulations, and expect all future contests to be based on sporting competitions where the contestants have a reasonable chance of winning and the contest staff has a reasonable chance of tallying the final scores just once.

Official Results from The New York Times

Popular VoteElectoral Votes
Alabama 60.2%37.7%90
Alaska 60.4%38.8%30
Arizona 53.8%45%100
Arkansas 58.8%38.8%60
California 37.3%60.8%055
Colorado 44.9%53.5%09
Connecticut 38.3%60.5%07
Delaware 37%61.9%03
District of Columbia6.5%92.9%03
Florida 48.4%50.9%027
Georgia 52.2%47%150
Hawaii 26.6%71.8%04
Idaho 61.5%36.1%40
Illinois 36.9%61.8%021
Indiana 49%49.9%011
Iowa 44.7%54%07
Kansas 56.8%41.4%60
Kentucky 57.5%41.1%80
Louisiana 58.6%39.9%90
Maine 40.5%57.6%04
Maryland 36.8%61.9%010
Massachusetts 36.2%62%012
Michigan 40.9%57.4%017
Minnesota 44%54.2%010
Mississippi 56.4%42.8%60
Missouri 49.4%49.3%110
Montana 49.7%47.2%30
Nebraska 56.8%41.7%50
Nevada 42.7%55.1%05
New Hampshire 44.8%54.3%04
New Jersey 42.1%56.8%015
New Mexico 42%56.7%05
New York 36.7%62.2%031
North Carolina 49.5%49.9%015
North Dakota 53.3%44.7%30
Ohio 47.2%51.2%020
Oklahoma 65.6%34.4%70
Oregon 40.8%57.1%07
Pennsylvania 44.3%54.7%021
Rhode Island 35.3%63.1%04
South Carolina 53.8%44.9%80
South Dakota 53.2%44.7%30
Tennessee 56.9%41.8%110
Texas 55.5%43.8%340
Utah 62.9%34.2%50
Vermont 30.6%67.8%03
Virginia 46.4%52.7%013
Washington 40.7%57.5%011
West Virginia 55.7%42.6%50
Wisconsin 42.4%56.3%010
Wyoming 65.2%32.7%30
Total174364 declares Barack Obama the winner of the 2008 presidential election.

Rigged Results
Only altered states are shown; red figures indicate successful change of electoral vote winner

Richard the Canuck
Buying Votes for Obama
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
Florida 11.4%87.9%027
New York 27.7%71.2%031
Texas 28.5%70.8%034
Obama wins 398-140.

Karl Rove
Buying Votes for McCain
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
Colorado 47.9%50.5%09
Florida 55.4%43.9%270
Indiana 54%44.9%110
Louisiana 63.6%34.9%90
Missouri 54.4%44.3%110
North Carolina 54.5%44.9%150
Ohio 52.2%46.2%200
Obama wins 291-247.

Polly Pollster
Buying Votes for McCain
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
California 47.3%50.8%055
Florida 54.4%44.9%270
Georgia 56.2%43%150
North Carolina 55.5%43.9%150
Ohio 53.2%45.2%200
Pennsylvania 50.3%48.7%210
Obama wins 281-257.

Anxious Agonizer
Buying Votes for McCain
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
California 45.3%52.8%055
Florida 52.4%46.9%270
Minnesota 48%50.2%010
North Carolina 56.5%42.9%150
Ohio 51.2%47.2%200
Pennsylvania 49.3%49.7%021
Obama wins 302-236.

G. Gordon Riggy
Buying Votes for McCain
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
California 50.3%47.8%550
Florida 54.4%44.9%270
Indiana 52%46.9%110
Missouri 52.4%46.3%110
North Carolina 53.5%45.9%150
Ohio 52.2%46.2%200
The election is rigged! McCain wins 302-236!

M. F. Leith
Buying Votes for McCain
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
California 46.3%51.8%055
Florida 53.4%45.9%270
Indiana 54%44.9%110
North Carolina 54.5%44.9%150
Ohio 52.2%46.2%200
Pennsylvania 49.3%49.7%021
Virginia 51.4%47.7%130
Obama wins 278-260.

Mr. Potatoe Head
Buying Votes for McCain
Popular VoteElectoral Votes
Florida 50.4%48.9%270
Minnesota 47%51.2%010
Ohio 49.2%49.2%020
Pennsylvania 48.3%50.7%021
Virginia 50.4%48.7%130
Wisconsin 45.4%53.3%010
Obama wins 324-214.

Vote Purchases by Player and State
Player Candidate CA CO FL GA IN LA MN MO NY NC OH PA TX VA WI Expenditure Tiebreaker
Richard the Canuck Obama     37           9       27     $73 million 195,740,965
Karl Rove McCain   3 7   5 5   5   5 5         $35 million 137,000,000
Polly Pollster McCain 10   6 4           6 6 6       $38 million 99,999,999
Anxious Agonizer McCain 8   4       4     7 4 5       $32 million 75,000,000
G. Gordon Riggy McCain 13   6   3     3   4 5         $34 million 131,461,209
M. F. Leith McCain 9   5   5         5 5 5   5   $39 million 100,000,000
Mr. Potatoe Head* McCain     2       3       2 4   4 3 $18 million 128,576,912
States in which no player has purchased votes are not displayed in the table.
*Mr. Potatoe Head is an employee of and is ineligible to receive a prize.

Abbreviations:  AL-Alabama  AK-Alaska  AZ-Arizona  AR-Arkansas  CA-California  CO-Colorado  CT-Connecticut  DE-Delaware  DC-Washington, D.C.  FL-Florida  GA-Georgia  HI-Hawaii  ID-Idaho  IL-Illinois  IN-Indiana  IA-Iowa  KS-Kansas  KY-Kentucky  LA-Louisiana  ME-Maine  MD-Maryland  MA-Massachusetts  MI-Michigan  MN-Minnesota  MS-Mississippi  MO-Missouri  MT-Montana  NE-Nebraska  NV-Nevada  NH-New Hampshire  NJ-New Jersey  NM-New Mexico  NY-New York  NC-North Carolina  ND-North Dakota  OH-Ohio  OK-Oklahoma  OR-Oregon  PA-Pennsylvania  RI-Rhode Island  SC-South Carolina  SD-South Dakota  TN-Tennessee  TX-Texas  UT-Utah  VT-Vermont  VA-Virginia  WA-Washington  WV-West Virginia  WI-Wisconsin  WY-Wyoming 


The object is simple: buy enough votes to change the result of the upcoming presidential election. You have unlimited funds, and you can buy votes in as many states as you like. There are only a few restrictions:

  • You may only buy votes for one candidate, either John McCain or Barack Obama. For purposes of this contest, third-party, independent, and crackpot candidates will be ignored.
  • You may buy votes in increments of 1% of each state's popular vote. Regardless of the state's population, 1% of its votes costs one million dollars. This is not the going rate, just the nominal cost for purposes of this contest, just as $500 won't buy you a real house but can get you an entire hotel in Monopoly.
  • You may not buy more than 49% of any state's votes. As a stereo salesman once remarked to me, "we try to be at least halfway honest around here."

How to Enter

Use the convenient form at the bottom of this page to enter the contest. Fill in the identifying fields, then use the menus to select how many votes you want to buy in each state. All states are set to zero by default; you only need to change the ones where you want to buy votes. Finally, fill in your tiebreaker prediction and click "submit." All entries must be received no later than midnight on Sunday, November 2, 2008.

Anyone with an e-mail account is welcome to play. There is no charge. You may send only one entry from an e-mail address. If you have more than one address, you may send one entry from each. You may use the same address to enter this contest and any other contest running concurrently at


Results will be calculated using CNN's online election results. In past elections, CNN has always reported the percentage of each state's popular vote won by each candidate, and the crack contest staff of trusts that they will do so again this year. If the unlikely event that they do not, we'll substitute the online results of a popular newspaper.

To determine a player's results, the official percentages will be adjusted by the amounts in the player's entry. Every percent added to one candidate's total is deducted from the other's. Then the electoral college votes will be recalculated on a winner-take-all basis. In order to change a state's vote, a candidate must win more than 50% of the total. If a player's adjustment only raises his candidate's total to 50%, he does not change the state's electoral result.

For example, let's say that California officially reports 51% of its total votes for McCain, 48% for Obama, and 1% for other. A player who buys 3% of the vote for Obama would change the percentages to 48% McCain, 51% Obama, 1% other, thus awarding all of California's electoral votes to Obama. A player who only bought 2% of the vote for Obama would change the result to 49% McCain, 50% Obama, 1% other, and because the adjustment did not award Obama more than 50%, the electoral votes remain McCain's.

CNN has previously reported popular-vote percentages as whole numbers. We will use the numbers exactly as reported by CNN on their main election results page. If they use fractional percentages for the 2008 election, we'll use the fractions. If a player's purchase of votes gives his candidate 50.1% of a state's popular vote, he will have successfully changed the electoral outcome of the state.

The Winner

The winner of this contest will be the player whose "purchased" votes would have reversed the actual outcome of the election held on November 4, 2008. If more than one player meets this condition, a series of tiebreakers will be used to determine the prizewinner. If multiple players are tied for first place after all tiebreakers have been exhausted, duplicate prizes will be awarded. Tiebreakers will be applied in the order shown here:

  1. The player who spends the least money wins.
  2. The player who generates the greatest margin of victory in the Electoral College wins.
  3. The player whose maximum expenditure in any one state is the lowest wins.
  4. The player who buys votes in the fewest states wins.
  5. The player whose tiebreaker prediction is closest to the actual number of votes cast nationwide wins (it makes no difference whether the prediction is higher or lower than the actual total).

Because the outcome of the election and the percentage of votes won by each candidate in each state may not be known immediately, will not announce an official winner until the results are no longer in doubt. Tentative results will be posted when practical.

The Prize does not reveal the prizes to be awarded before all entries have been received. However, since this contest is all about cheating, we're going to break our own rule. The winner will receive a copy of Idiots in Charge by Leland Gregory, a collection of anecdotes - allegedly true - about the shenanigans of government officials.


Seeking Professional Help

Where and how you do your research is entirely your decision. For those of you who aren't sure where to start, we suggest CNN. They summarize the results of all the latest polls in their Electoral Map Calculator, which not only tells you which way each state is leaning but also lets you see the impact of changing the preference of any state.


Your e-mail address (will not appear on player roster):

Your name (as you want it to appear on the player roster):

Candidate for whom you are buying votes:

Percent of
Popular Vote Purchased
Alabama 9
Alaska 3
Arizona 10
Arkansas 6
California 55
Colorado 9
Connecticut 7
Delaware 3
District of Columbia3
Florida 27
Georgia 15
Hawaii 4
Idaho 4
Illinois 21
Indiana 11
Iowa 7
Kansas 6
Kentucky 8
Louisiana 9
Maine 4
Maryland 10
Massachusetts 12
Michigan 17
Minnesota 10
Mississippi 6
Missouri 11
Montana 3
Nebraska 5
Nevada 5
New Hampshire 4
New Jersey 15
New Mexico 5
New York 31
North Carolina 15
North Dakota 3
Ohio 20
Oklahoma 7
Oregon 7
Pennsylvania 21
Rhode Island 4
South Carolina 8
South Dakota 3
Tennessee 11
Texas 34
Utah 5
Vermont 3
Virginia 13
Washington 11
West Virginia 5
Wisconsin 10
Wyoming 3


Predict the total number of votes that will be cast nationwide: