Swing Vote
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Swing Vote is a 2008 American comedy-drama film about an entire U.S. presidential election determined by the vote of one man. It was directed by Joshua Michael Stern, and stars Kevin Costner, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez and Madeline Carroll. The film was released on August 1, 2008.


In a presidential election set in an alternate 2008, Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) is a dimwitted, jobless, apolitical man from Texico, New Mexico, coaxed by his twelve-year-old daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) to take more of a serious approach to life. Molly runs the household and sees an opportunity on election day to energize her father.

Frustrated by Bud’s apathy toward voting, Molly sneaks into her local polling place and tries to vote on behalf of Bud. However, because the voting machines are unplugged, the ballot is registered, but no decision is indicated on which candidate receives the vote. As the election is close, Bud s vote becomes critical to allocating New Mexico s electoral college votes.

The popular vote is tied for the two major candidates in New Mexico, leaving Bud to decide the next president of the United States. He gets wooed by both candidates, the incumbent Republican, Andrew Carington Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and the opposing Democrat, Vermont Senator Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper). Both candidates are aided by their respective campaign managers, Martin Fox (Stanley Tucci) and Art Crumb (Nathan Lane).

Bud s actual opinions (or lack thereof) are misinterpreted by the media, causing the candidates to flip-flop on several positions (the Democrats take an anti-abortion and anti-illegal immigration position, while the Republicans take a pro-environmental and pro-gay marriage position). The two candidates are shown to move away from the cynical tactics forced on them by their advisers, and both gain Bud s respect.

In the end, Bud chooses to hold a final debate the day before he is set to recast his ballot. In a written speech, he confesses that he knows little-to-nothing about politics, or for that matter, life, and decides to ask questions people have sent to him in the mail. The film ends with Bud casting his vote as Molly watches with a smile on her face, though for whom he voted is never revealed.


  • Kevin Costner as Bud Johnson
  • Madeline Carroll as Molly Johnson
  • Paula Patton as Kate Madison
  • Kelsey Grammer as President Andrew Boone
  • Dennis Hopper as Senator Donald Greenleaf
  • Nathan Lane as Art Crumb
  • Stanley Tucci as Martin Fox
  • George Lopez as John Sweeney
  • Judge Reinhold as Walter
  • Charles Esten as Lewis (credited as Charles Chip Esten)
  • Mare Winningham as Larissa Johnson
  • Mark Moses as Attorney General Wyatt
  • Nana Visitor as Galena Greenleaf
  • Floyd Westerman as Chief Running Bear (credited as Floyd Red Crow Westerman)
  • Dale O Malley as Hank Johnson

As themselves

  • Aaron Brown
  • Campbell Brown
  • Tucker Carlson
  • James Carville
  • Mary Hart
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Larry King
  • Bill Maher
  • Chris Matthews
  • Willie Nelson
  • Lawrence O Donnell
  • Richard Petty


Swing Vote was shot primarily in Albuquerque and Belen, New Mexico. Although not intended as a political statement on the then-upcoming presidential elections, when Kevin Costner found he could not get the financing he wanted for Swing Vote to get it into theaters in time for the 2008 presidential election, he bankrolled it himself.

Joshua Michael Stern, who directed and co-wrote the script with Jason Richman, had earlier precedents to follow. The premise of the film is similar to an Isaac Asimov story Franchise , in which elections have evolved until the entire decision is based on one man chosen by Multivac. The premise of Garson Kanin’s 1939 movie The Great Man Votes is also very similar to Swing Vote. A 1966 episode of the TV series F Troop, The Ballot of Corporal Agarn , uses the same basic storyline.


Critical response

The film received mostly negative reviews by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 38% based on 145 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The website s critical consensus reads, Despite Kevin Costner providing his most charismatic performance in years, Swing Vote fails to find the right mix of political satire and heartfelt drama. On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on reviews from 30 critics, indicating mixed or average reviews . Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of B on an A+ to F scale.

Reaction from critics centered on Costner s performance. One characterized it as unsentimental , but handled with such ease and conviction that it anchors the film. Roger Ebert noted that in building the premise, the movie makes a plucky stab at explaining how it comes to happen – and it almost sounds plausible. He gave it three stars, saying that a mix of comedy and drama is winning; Costner couldn t be better, and the little girl is a find. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also gave it favorable reviews. Richard Roeper was quoted as saying, Not a bad movie, probably OK to rent on DVD, but I m saying don t rush to the theaters. The Times of the UK ranked Swing Vote no. 14 on its list of the 100 Worst Films of 2008.

Box office

The film grossed $16,289,867 domestically and $1,344,446 overseas totaling $17,634,313 worldwide. On its opening weekend, the film grossed $6,230,669, placing it #6.

After release, a controversy arose when Dennis Hopper complained about his role being cut; in a series of interviews, he claimed, I got cut out of that movie .


Bradley Blakeman, a former deputy assistant for appointments and scheduling to President George W. Bush, filed a lawsuit on August 7, 2008, stating that he gave Kelsey Grammer a copyrighted screenplay titled Go November in 2006. The lawsuit, filed at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Long Island, New York, was against Grammer, Kevin Costner (co-financier), The Walt Disney Company (owner of the film rights), Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group Inc. (production company), and Touchstone Pictures (distributor), and claims that the plot and marketing elements of Swing Vote were stolen from him.

The case was eventually settled for US$10 (equivalent to $12.43 in 2021) after the judge dismissed his other claims against Costner and Disney.

Home media release

The film was released by Touchstone Home Entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on January 13, 2009.

Year 2008
ReleaseDate 2008-08-01
RuntimeMins 120
RuntimeStr 2h
Plot In a remarkable turn-of-events, the result of the presidential election comes down to one man’s vote.
Awards Awards, 1 nomination
Directors Joshua Michael Stern
Writers Jason Richman, Joshua Michael Stern, David Giammarco
Stars Kevin Costner, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer
Produced by Kevin Costner,Terry Dougas,Ted Field,Robin Jonas,Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis,Todd Lewis,Jim Wilson
Music by John Debney
Cinematography by Shane Hurlbut
Film Editing by Jeff McEvoy
Casting By Venus Kanani,Mary Vernieu
Production Design by Steve Saklad
Art Direction by Mark Zuelzke
Set Decoration by Marcia Calosio
Costume Design by Lisa Jensen
Makeup Department Enid Arias,Jennifer Bell,Megan Daum,Elle Elliott,Blair Leonard,Dennis Liddiard,Medusah,Francisco X. Pérez,Danlee Winegar,Sara Bozik,Elizabeth Gallegos,Jennifer McDaniel,Jolynn Nieto,Deidre Parness
Production Management S.J. JoJo Fieger,Christopher Kulikowski,Todd Lewis
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Hope Garrison,Eric Glasser,Eric Fox Hays,Kate Marie Boyle,Lily Garcia,Scott Metcalfe,Chad Saxton
Art Department Timothy Abreu,Chris Alvarez,Brett Andrews,Arthur Arndt,Craig B. Ayers Sr.,James Barth,David D. Baumann,Korbin Bennett-Gold,John Berger,David Bird,Lou Boggs,Marco Britt,Mike Carrillo,James W. Center,Matt Chavez,Victor Chavez,Lance Cheatham,Charles Chesser,Dennis Collins,Sage Emmett Connell,Kenneth Cook,Mike De Luca,Michael Deal,Brian DeNike,Chadney Everett,Graham Griswold,Wellyem Guerra,Miguel Gurule,Mark Gutierrez,Paul Haag,Paul Harman,Glenn Harris,Paul Arthur Hartman,Virginia Hopkins,Arlen Johnson,Lorin Johnson,Lise Landeau,Emily Latting,David A. Lente,Amahl Lovato,Roberta Marquez Seret,John Marshall,Jerry Martinez,Geni McAndrews,Randy Moffitt,Leigh Anne Montaño,Orlando R. Montoya,Kimberly Murak,Kirk Newren,Jesus Ornelas,Jesus M. Ornelas,John Peach,David Phillips,Jacob Reinwand,Zacheriah T. Rheam,Ernest Romine,Sebastian Rutkowsky Ruiz,John Shane,Jaime Souza,Loren Stielstra,Travis Stroope,Mike Stull,Karen Teneyck,David Thompson,Andrew Trujillo,David Trujillo,Robert P. Trujillo,Jim Twocrow,Steve Vigil,Benjamin M. Walsh,Bruce Wetherbee,Skip Whitson,Chris Windisch Jr.,Christopher Windisch,Rick Young,Colin Zaug,Steven Maes,Robbie Mueller,Dennis Riewerts,Gabriel Rivera,Ted Slampyak
Sound Department Andreas Bergman,Rich Crescenti,Peter Drexler,Alexander Gruzdev,Matthew Halbert,Jae Kim,Travis MacKay,Dessie Markovsky,Harrison Meyle,Matthew Nicolay,Emile Razpopov,Vesco Razpopov,Andy Snavley,Zac Sneesby,Eric Thompson,Ben Whitver,Jason Chiodo,Tor McAfee Kingdon,Chris Navarro,Beauxregard Neylen,Onofre Ortega
Special Effects by Compton Brodhead,Daniel Holt,Margaret Johnson,Randy E. Moore
Visual Effects by Mandy Arnold,Michael Ashton,Jamie Baxter,Ryan Beadle,Steve Caldwell,Michael L. Castillo,Samuel M. Dabbs,Kyle DeVriendt,Dennis Dorney,Mark Dornfeld,Michele Ferrone,Adam Gass,Sarah Grieshammer,R.J. Harbour,Shaina Holmes,Nicholas Kim,Paulina Kuszta,Vincent Lavares,Evelyn Lee,Bruce Mann,Gray Marshall,Mark Sawicki,Brad Schaider,David Slaughter,Amani Williams,Lindsay M. Hoppe,Justin Israel
Stunts Eddie J. Fernandez,Christopher Gordon,Al Goto,John Koyama,Daniel Maldonado
Camera and Electrical Department Phillip Abeyta,Charles F. Arnold III,Bradley Barnes,Theodore Y. Bott,Glenn Brown,Po Chan,Paul Conti,Jacob Cottrell,Shane Duckworth,Ed Duran,Harland Espeset,Tobin Espeset,Frank Eyers,Mark Figueroa,Jamie Garcia,Ben Glass,Lamarr Gray,Shawn E. Helgedalen,Greg Hewett,Amy Holmen,Dale Holmen,Tom Hutchinson,John Joleaud,Jack C. Jones,Steve Jones,Jason Linebaugh,Rob Lueker,Preston Mallot,Otis Mannick,Robert L. Mant,Tor Matson,Starrs McBurney,Jody Miller,Louis Nelson,Dan Nordquist,Ray Ortega,James H. Pair III,Robert L. Palmer,Mike Pesce,Don Rael,Aldous Regster,Bruce Robinson,Ronald Romero,Michael Spike Ryan,Terry J. Sanchez,Nick Shuster,John Stearns,Mark Steinig,Jeff Stewart,Michael Svitak,James R. Tynes,Paul Varrieur,Jacob Vernon,Michael Warren,Dale Glenn Waseta,Cody West,Wes Whittaker,Tyler Fletcher,Rudy Harbon,Michael Kelem,James R. Powell,Mark Sheets,Marcia Woske
Animation Department The Chiodo Brothers
Casting Department William Arute,Jo Edna Boldin,Thomas Campbell,Elizabeth Gabel,Lindsay Graham,Brandon Hemmerling,Hannah Macpherson,Marie A.K. McMaster,Steven Raye Stanard,Rebecca Stover,Michelle Wade Byrd
Costume and Wardrobe Department Maria Bentfield,Lynette Bernay,Claire Breaux,Barbara Lee Brice,Michelle Duval,Blanca Garcia,Richard Lange,Roberta Souder Langhofer,Lora McKenny,Claire Sandrin,Jesse Trevino,Cassidy Zachary,Pilar Agoyo
Editorial Department Ben Callahan,Jeff Charles,George Chavez,David Cole,Craig DeMartini,Valance Eisleben,Nancy Fuller,Doug Jaqua,Carl McKay,Carrie Oliver,Byron Smith,Stacy Underhill,David White,Linda Williams
Location Management Steve Aguino,Michael Dellheim,Mario Gerard,Paul Merritt,Saul A. Rodriguez-Garcia,Rowan Stanland
Music Department Jeff Atmajian,Frank Bennett,Simon Britton,Belinda Broughton,Tom Brown,Jeff Carson,John Debney,Lola Debney,Brad Dechter,Sandy DeCrescent,George Doering,Steve Erdody,Matt Franko,Jim Harrison,Jim Hoffman,The Hollywood Studio Orchestra,Jimmy Hoyson,Kevin Kaska,Mitchell Leib,Christopher Lord,Guy Moon,Melanie Mullens Hoyson,Shawn Murphy,Sid Page,Gilbert Patton,Victor Pesavento,Ryan Robinson,Peter Rotter,Naomi Sato,Erik Swanson,James Thatcher,Mike Watts,Alan Ett,The Hollywood Studio Symphony,Scott Liggett,Don Nemitz
Script and Continuity Department Faith Conroy
Transportation Department Norman Austin,Mary Beth Borg,George M. Brown,James Cawley,Cindy Claunch,Frank Cruz,Howard Brady Davidson,Allan Esquibel,Jesse Esquibel,Joshua Foley,Billy L. Butch Frank,Joseph Gonzales,Jimmy Goodman,Roy A. Grace,Brian Gurney,Gary Hardman,Laura James,Brian Kay,Wyatt D. Kay,Robert J. Kozlowski,Gavin Lebow,Leon C. Lebow,Jimmy A. Lopez,Rita Lundin,Jimmy W. Masterson,Robert Red Maxwell,Steve Meador,Richard E. Morley Jr.,James William Ray,William Billy Ray,Mike Riportella,Jesse Romero,Walter J. Russell,Bonnie Seltzer,David Severin,Roberto Vasquez,Anthony Wamego,Randy White,George Williams,Kip Wolverton
Additional Crew Jasa Abreo,Don Ambabo,Paul Baca,James Baumgartner,Ken Beggs,David Brown,Tim Carlson,Tom Carroll,Jeane Champion,Trine Christiansen,Angie Lee Cobbs,William Coinman,David Cowgill,Mandy Diasselliss,Alex Diaz,Dante Eaton,Karen Eisenstadt,Amy Eldridge,George Estill,Patrick Falls,S.J. JoJo Fieger,Eileen Galindo,Ken Garcia,Jim Giesler,Austin Gilmore,Adrienne L. Graves,Johan Grimm,Emily Gruendike,Julie Hansen,Melissa Hariton,Amy Hawkins,Herbert Hess,Bridget Hoffman,Keith Jackson,Allison Jandreau-Heil,Katherine Knox,Ryan Lacen,Luisa Leschin,Zeke Lopez,Leigh Maney,Brandy Marrs,Heidi Mayfield,Leanne Milner,Gregory Kenneth Minihan,Richard Miro,Kathy Morgan,Bob Neill,Jonathan Nichols,Daniel Noah,Laurie Petok,Ryan J. Pezdirc,Holly Pinnell,Cali Pomes,Al Rodrigo,Rufus Rosendo,Veronica Sanchez,Shira Schwille,Francis Shelley,Ryan Shoemake,Kim Smith,Jonathan Sole,Louise Spencer,Daniel Taras,Mark Thomason,Lisa Vanallen,Barry Weigele,Sid Yost,Marquelyn Carrillo,Michael Chochol,Fernando Echeverri,Brooke Fair,Bernadette Gonzales,Marissa M. Gonzales,Adrienne L. Graves,Gregor Joackim,Brady Kephart,Tammy Maples,Brieann Rich,Michael Rich,Nicholas Rich,G.Q. Sanchez,Vanessa Sharp,Marcus Taylor
Thanks Eric Olander,Dara Tallon
Genres Comedy, Drama
Companies Touchstone Pictures, Radar Pictures, 1821 Pictures
Countries USA
Languages English
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 6.1
ImDbRatingVotes 18801
MetacriticRating 47
Keywords awakened by one's daughter,father daughter relationship,presidential candidate,election returns,election coverage