The second presidential debate is fast approaching. We'll be live blogging the town-hall style forum here, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST, like we did the first faceoff between John McCain and Barack Obama and the encounter between the vice presidential nominees.

Until then, here's a short list of some of the most interesting debate-related stories from all over the Internet:

Town-hall debates are supposed to be about the voters. So we first present you with two up-close looks at voters in swing states. The New Yorker's George Packer wrote about disaffected voters in Ohio, and our own Peter Wallsten wrote about small-town Virginians.

Wallsten also took note of the increasingly negative turn of the campaign -- and what that means for tonight.

Slate magazine discussed the potential benefits and pitfalls of the town-hall-style debate, while Politico examined how they have shaped past elections. Politico's conclusion: Talking points are rarely effective in this kind of forum.

The New York Times, by the way, reported that at least 6 million questions have been submitted to be asked at the debate.

Rolling Stone is out with a scathing profile of McCain (no surprise about that slant). Meanwhile, our own Dan Morain and Bob Drogin recently profiled the man behind McCain -- chief strategist Steve Schmidt.

An finally, here's an interesting piece on Google search trends during last week's vice presidential debate. Did you know that the most popular search during the debate was "maverick?" Or that the number of Google queries about Joe Biden jumped by a factor of more than 70? The searches for Sarah Palin, who had been very much in the public eye before the debate, increased only by a factor of 6.

Want to know the buzzwords of tonight's debate? You'll have to stay tuned . . .

-- Kate Linthicum/Don Frederick