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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP’s ‘Cybersquatter’ Edge

Lest anyone entertain delusions about the GOP taking more of a high road in campaign ’08, The New York Times has an instructive article by Kitty Bennett, “R.N.C. Snaps Up Domain Names“. Bennett explains:

At least 25 domain names related to Hillary Rodham Clinton have links to the Republican National Committee: the names were either registered by the R.N.C. last year or showed up on servers the committee uses…The party has also begun preemptively registering domains that could be used to attack John McCain, like mccainamigos.com, voteagainstmccain.com, flipflopmccain.com and hatemccain.com.

Bennett notes the GOP’s edge in ‘cybersquatter’ warfare:

The Democratic Party and the campaigns have shown little of the verve and creativity of the R.N.C. …The party has been focused more on the national convention, registering variations of denverdemconvention08.com in February, but so far apparently no domains related to Mr. McCain.
The election has “triggered an avalanche of cybersquatter activity,” according to NetNames, a domain name management service. Speculators have registered nearly 2,000 domain names related to presidential candidates as of last week. Names related to Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy made up over half of the registrations, followed by Mr. Obama with 635 and Mr. McCain with 269.

It would be a mistake to overstate the importance of hogging domain names as a political tactic, and it’s hard to see how it will affect many votes. But it does show that there is not much the Republicans won’t fund to help muzzle Dems’ messaging resources.
Although it’s a stretch to attribute all of the tactical lag to the Democrats superior moral ground, no one should be surprised that the GOP has a stronger proclivity for purely obstructionist tactics (some history here) and an edge in deploying them. The DNC might benefit by setting up an internet-savvy task force to anticipate such shenanigans and respond accordingly.

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