You’d have to be trying really hard to have failed to notice that next Tuesday, people all across the USA will go to the polls to elect their next President.

Every detail of the race has been covered online, on TV and radio, in the newspapers and on the web. So if you’ve already heard enough about it, you should probably stop reading this now.

Still with me? Great. One of the things I’ve found most interesting about the whole thing is the way the web has played an absolutely key role. Both candidates have been using the internet to try and energise and mobilise supporters and raise campaign funds, with varying levels of success.

And a plethora of sites offering coverage, mashups and opinions have sprung up. One of my favourites has been Current TV’s Hack the Debate, which broadcast each presidential debate live and allowed users to send in comments via Twitter. These were displayed over the video of the debates in real time.

Excellent online magazine Slate has also offered lots of innovative coverage, including its poll tracker and map the candidates, which shows you where the campaigns have visited and what they did while they were there.

TechCrunch has a nice summary of some of the other stuff that’s happening online in the run up to, and on election day.

Domain names

As you’d expect, with so many people creating election tools and contributing to this vast pool of online election coverage, there’s been something of an explosion in activity around election-related domains.

Perhaps the most notable followed John McCain’s now famous ‘Joe the plumber’ moment. After McCain mentioned plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in one of the presidential debates, the real-life Joe who owns found himself inundated with offers for the domain name, some as high as $800,000.

Another enterprising individual (presumably) foresaw that McCain would try to persuade Hillary Clinton supporters to swap sides and vote Republican after Hillary failed to win the Democratic nomination.

They registered the domain back in May, when Hillary Clinton was still in with a shout of beating Obama to become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. The URL now points straight to McCain’s campaign site.

On a slightly darker note, I can’t be the only person a little surprised to see that was registered in January this year. And although Slate reported in July that wasn’t owned by the Obama campaign, it looks like the owner has since been persuaded to redirect traffic to the campaign’s official website.

Finally, if you don’t trust the polls, perhaps you can measure a candidate’s chance of success by how many domain names exist about them. On that measure, Obama is way out in front. Research by IDG found that there are 2,357 domains for Obama, compared to just 1,431 for McCain.

We’ll have to wait till Wednesday morning for the final result. And after that, I guess we’ll be looking towards 2009 or 2010, when the next UK General Election is likely to be held.

Will we see similar domain name speculation and online activism? Thinking about it, perhaps now’s the time to beat the rush and register some political domains. How about or

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