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Web users cast vote against politics site

On the eve of Election Day, Politics.com is auctioning off its Internet address, seeing no reason to exist beyond Tuesday.

As Americans prepare to cast their ballots Tuesday, Web site Politics.com is poised to throw in the towel.

A little more than a year ago, the founders of Politics.com were filled with the promise of striking success when their information Web site hit the Net.

They built a business model around the concept that the Internet would steal campaign advertising from television, radio and newspapers. They also assumed political junkies would flock to the site hungry for the latest election scoop.

None of that has panned out.

So now, on the eve of Election Day, Politics.com is auctioning off its Internet address, seeing no reason to exist beyond Tuesday.

"When we launched the Politics.com Web site in 1999, we felt there would be a huge interest and following by the political-oriented public, particularly with an election year coming up," Politics.com president Howard R. Baer said in a statement. "We created an award-winning site, and although we have a large following, it does not create the revenues and profits needed."

This campaign season was billed as the first time the Internet would play a critical role in the elections. For a while, political Web sites were popping up every week, hoping to ride what seemed like the next online trend. But what may have started with a pop is ending with a fizzle.

Charlie Rentschler, 25, of San Francisco, learned his lesson in May. Rentschler was forced to sell his foundering business, BetterVote.com, after a short-lived existence on the Net. He found that most Americans were not interested in sifting through pages of political news.

Politics.com offers commentary, polls and chat rooms where visitors can discuss their political views. "We are a company working to change the way you experience politics," a statement on the site says. "Our ultimate goal is to be the place where politics happens on the Internet--local, state, national and international."

In a July 1999 press release, the founders said they were planning to "take advantage of the large exodus of political advertising expected to come from TV, print and radio to the Internet during the coming primaries and elections."

That exodus never materialized.

Bids for the Politics.com domain can be placed at PoliticsOnline.