Four years ago, after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked (now Speaker of the House) Paul Ryan as his running mate, I wrote a blog post titled, "Romney and Ryan Don’t Have RomneyRyan.com. So What?" Now, other bloggers are reporting that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence apparently don't have the domain name TrumpPence.com and that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine don't have the domain name ClintonKaine.com.
The TrumpPence.com domain name is registered to a privacy service and (as of this writing) redirects to a website for a company that buys and sells domain names. It was registered on February 22, 2016 -- almost five months before Trump picked Pence.
The ClintonKaine.com domain is also registered to a privacy service and (as of this writing) redirects to a "Disqualify Hillary Clinton" page on the official Trump website (using the domain name donaldjtrump.com). It was registered on August 8, 2011 -- almost five years before Clinton picked Kaine.
The fact that neither campaign appears to be in control of its corresponding .com domain name may seem odd -- and, in the case of the ClintonKaine.com domain name that is being used against the Democratic candidates, perhaps embarrassing.
But, just as I said four years ago: So what?
In 2012, I observed that "having a .com domain name that matches the candidates’ names is far from essential to a successful campaign" and that, in any event, the campaign couldn't rely on a domain name dispute under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to remedy the situation. The same is true today.
Both the Trump and Clinton campaigns have well-established websites at domain names that were registered a long time ago: donaldjtrump.com was created in 1997 (and, curiously, is registered to The Trump Organization, not Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.), and hillaryclinton.com was registered in 2001 (and is registered to Hillary for America). Searching either of the candidates' names on Google ("trump" or "clinton") prominently leads users to the appropriate campaign websites.
So, it probably doesn't cause any measurable harm to either candidate that they don't have their campaigns' corresponding domain names. Anyone who wants to research the candidates online -- to read about their positions on various issues, to make donations, to buy merchandise -- can easily find the correct websites in a matter of seconds.
As I noted four years ago, 2016 is the first presidential election since the expansion of the domain name system. Presidential (and other) candidates can now register domain names using new gTLDs such as .vote, .gop and .democrat. Yet these new top-level domain names appear to be largely ignored (just as is true of most of the new gTLDs).
To be sure, domain names remain important. But political candidates, like companies of all sizes, can't register every possibly relevant domain name. Fortunately for the politicians, campaigns come and go, so even missing out on a potentially attractive domain name may be irrelevant after election day.
On the other hand, companies that want to build their brands and conduct business online for years, without term limits, may want to manage their Internet campaigns differently -- by proactively registering important domain names and by enforcing their rights through the UDRP and other domain name dispute processes.