October 2012 Puzzle Solution

Each group of five clues solves to five three-letter words that can be used to fill in one of the 5x3 grids from top to bottom. Every such filled-in grid has many instances of a particular letter, and these instances form the shape of a different letter -- for instance, the clues in the first group form an O made of Cs. The remaining letters in a set that are not used to form the letter shape almost match up with one of the alphabetized sets of letters below a grid; in the first group, the leftover letters are A, T, D, X, B, I, and E, which matches ABDEIX except for the extra "doubly leftover" T. Thus, each group fits into a grid (determined by the leftover letters) to produce three new letters: the one that repeats to form the visual shape of a letter, the letter thus formed, and the "doubly leftover" letter that doesn't fit into the alphabetized set below the grid.

The answers to the clues in each group (reading down the first column and then the second column) are:

  • ACT, CDC, CXC, BBC, ICE; matches ABDEIX + T
  • CNN, NEW, NIL, NOT, ANN; matches ACILOTW + E
  • AMA, ALA, AAU, AVS, AHA: matches HLMU + V
  • CCC, OCT, RCA, ACE, BCS: matches AABEORT + S
  • LPT, POP, PPP, PSP, PEP: matches ELST + O
  • EGO, GAG, GGG, GTG, GIG: matches AIOT + E
  • ONO, OXO, OOO, ORO, OLO: matches NRX + L
  • INN, GIN, MEN, NUN, ENT: matches EGIIMTU + E
  • MMA, MOM, MGM, MCM, MMS: matches AGOS + C
  • WOW, WAW, WCW, WTW, OWL: matches ACLOO + T

When the grids are filled in correctly, the "doubly leftover" letters spell ELECTVOTES, which is suggestive of "electoral votes", and the grids display: Gs forming an A, Os forming an H, Ns forming a C, etc. Interpret these as postal codes to get: GA, OH, NC, MD, WV, AK, PA, CO, NJ, CT. Take the number of electoral votes for each state (16, 18, 15, 10, 5, 3, 20, 9, 14, 7) and convert them to letters to get the answer, PROJECTING.

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