The following list is of games that political opponents have engaged in with Political Domain Names. We give these examples for candidates to consider when choosing a domain name for their campaign website rather than as strategies that we approve of.
1. Pointing Domains to the Opponent's Website:
This is probably the easiest (and thus most common) trick people play. For instance, currently Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi is engaged in a reelection campaign and has HaleyBarbour.com for his campaign website. Unfortunately, his campaign staff failed to obtain other obvious domain names and point them to the campaign's website and the opposition took advantage of the situation. So anyone who types in BarbourForGovernor.com will go to the website of Governor Barbour's opponent.
2. Putting up a Parody Website:
Takes more work but it also is viewed better by the media if it is original and funny. Because the First Amendment protects political speech, there is not much a candidate can do about this. Reach Out Communications has an interesting case study on the Dennis Kucinich For President Campaign and how choosing the wrong domains early in his career has come back to haunt him.
3. Putting up a Negative Website:
Every Candidate has said or done things in their past that they wish they could take back. Clearly on your own website you will play down these items. However if someone working for your opponent obtains a superior domain name to your own, they can cause your campaign enormous grief by bringing those items front and center. It could be by putting up hostile news articles, or by highlighting issues you want to ignore, or by quoting you on unpopular actions that you took. Again, Reach Out Communications has an interesting case study on this type of website: a candidate for Congress in Nevada whose opponents registered the .org version of his .com website. While they played it for some laughs, they didn't have to. Notice how they copied his own banner and picture-- this is probably a copyright violation but by the time the courts make a ruling the election (and damage) is done.
Are these Tactics Legitimate?
It depends. Candidates have an obligation to not only make the case as to why they are worthy of the voters' confidence but also as to why they are more worthy than other candidates in the race. If it is about the job and it is true then it is not Negative Campaigning. Pointing out someone's history of poor decision making or unscrupulous behavior is fair game. Making up lies about someone or attacking their family is not.