Users of the video sharing website YouTube will tonight interrogate the Democratic candidates in the 2008 US presidential election, in a joint broadcasting venture with the news channel CNN.

Some 2,300 video clips have been recorded and sent in to YouTube, ranging from hard-hitting questions about healthcare and gay rights to light-hearted musical performances and a talking duck. CNN will select around 30 videos and play them to the Democratic candidates - among them Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - in a South Carolina college.

Technology seems set to play a major role in next year's election race. Obama and Clinton have worked hard to build up online support via their MySpace pages - for the record, at time of writing Obama was ahead of Clinton by about 27,000 friends - and it is generally felt that 2008 will see liberal bloggers repeat their opinion-shaping performance in last year's Congressional elections.

Following the general principle that the anonymity of the web allows advertisers to be more daring, US politics has also seen its share of risqué internet-based advertising - earlier this year a video on YouTube depicted Hillary Clinton as an Orwellian 'Big Sister' after the fashion of the 1984 Apple advert.

Less positively, computerised voting booths may play their part too.

It all puts the webcameron to shame, really.

[Via The Guardian]