Notoural: "Soccer Dads" in Action
Kin Clinton, Wes Yoder and Stuart Southard, three "soccer dads" from Brentwood (Nashville), created not-for-profit The Tennessee Forum in summer 2000.  In July and August they raised money, and in late August they launched the "Notoural" website, which was a cornerstone of their efforts.  In addition to the website, the group ran radio and print ads.  They even recorded a theme song "Is that your final answer, Al?" (music by Bob Farnsworth of Budweiser singing frog fame).  Clinton noted he, Yoder and Southard were novices in the political arena, and said one of the big challenges was figuring out "Who do you communicate with?"  He said they sought to avoid negative attacks which "might have played to the faithful but certainly didn't persuade."

By Kin Clinton
None of us had been politically active.  We are not Republicans.  All of us have voted for Democratic candidates at one time or another.  We simply believed that it was time for us to get off the sidelines. 

We observed that Al Gore was vulnerable in Tennessee because he had, since assuming a national political strategy, embraced the agendas of the liberal groups that hold power in the Democratic Party on a national level.  Extreme environmentalism, irrational gun control, unfettered abortion rights, mainstreaming of gay rights, etc.  Mr. Gore was elected to Congress and the Senate as a classic southern conservative democrat.  His presidential campaign was substantially different.  Morever, we observed that the dominant media in this area had longstanding ties to the Gore family and was not likely to explore Gore's policy shifts. Consequently, we set out to focus attention on these policy shifts. Website
We used several tools.  We created a website called  The content of this site was excerpts  from newspapers and magazines around the country.  We did not include any editorial comment.  We drew from the NY Times, San Francisco Examiner, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Washington Times and others.  The articles were organized by topic.  Next we ran a series of three radio ads on local
drive time radio in Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.  The ads covered the Buddhist Monk fundraising, the story of the zinc mine on his homestead property in Carthage, and the Boy Scouts controversy.  The content consisted entirely of quotes from these same news organizations and ended with the tag "is that your final answer Al?"  Finally, we ran the print version of the radio ads as full page ads in local/community papers throughout the area and leased a couple of billboards. 

In total, we spent about $225,000, mostly on radio.  The media ran in 21 counties.  Statewide Bush won by about 79,000 votes.  He had a 69,000 vote margin in these counties.  This included Gore's former congressional district, which he would have lost.  The website attracted about 350,000 visitors in the two and a half months it was active.  We shut it down on election day.

Frankly, we were amazed at how effective the campaign appears to have been.  Neither the Gore campaign nor the Bush team spent any media money here until the last two weeks of the campaign.  By then, the only other group running local media was the NRA.  Ultimately, we believe that Mr. Gore did not fully appreciate the extent to which his policies had moved away from the more conservative views of his former base. It was not necessary for us to "attack" Mr. Gore, we only needed to give exposure to a broader media that more fairly examined his record.

This experience has been most interesting for all of us and reaffirmed our sense that "average" citizens can still make a difference.

Print ads in local and community papers complemented the radio ad campaign.

Copyright  2001  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.