Political campaigns can be messy affairs, and the U.S. 2016 presidential election will not disappoint those who relish the spectacle. And in an age where an effective digital strategy is a key part of the political campaign, domain names have increasingly become a weapon in the mudslinging battlefield.

Now that the .SUCKS “premium” names have been leaked, campaign managers have even more calculations to consider.

(Domain) Name Calling

Earlier this year, when Senator Ted Cruz announced his bid for the Republican nomination for President, he ran into a bit of a speed bump setting up a campaign website. Why? Because domains like TedCruz.Com and TedCruzForAmerica.com were already owned and hosting messages that ran contrary to Sen. Cruz’s public stances – the sites supported immigration reform or redirected to HealthCare.gov, the official website of the Affordable Care Act.

While this is not the first time domain names have been used to cheekily attack or poke fun at political candidates, campaign advisors now have a bigger field beyond extensions like .COM and .ORG to keep their eye on: Domain names in new gTLDs such as .REPUBLICAN, .DEMOCRAT, .GOP and .VOTE are available. And of course, there’s .SUCKS.

The New Information on .SUCKS

This week, the list of “premium” domain names in the new .SUCKS gTLD was leaked.

Among the nearly 100,000 domains listed, are the names of every candidate from both sides of the aisle who has announced a run for the 2016 presidential election thus far. In addition to political figures like President Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the list even includes the names of President Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia.

What does it mean to have a name designated as “premium”? In this case, it means that in order to protect a name, a candidate will be forced to pay over $2,000 per year, or else the same domain name can be given away during landrush for as little as $10 to someone wishing to create what amounts to a protected gripe site.

Every campaign manager will have to make a decision whether or not to pay up to protect a candidates name in .SUCKS – another potential asset or liability in the digital arms race.

Josh Bourne

Managing Partner at FairWinds Partners
A Managing Partner for the business, Josh draws on his experience with brands and blogs on business solutions for the domain name space.
Josh Bourne
Digital Strategy for the 2016 Presidential Election – The .SUCKS Risk

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