The Good

An in-depth account of how one state can make all the difference in an election.

The Bad

Somewhat hard to follow the political process at times.

If you are still scratching your head over the 2004 election when it seemed like George W. Bush was ripe to taken out of office, So Goes the Nation explains how that didn't happen. With the war in Iraq going badly, the economy not doing well, and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 making $100 million at the box office (the film basically screaming for the removal of our Commander In Chief), it seemed that all Kerry would have to do would be to motivate youth voters and Democrats were going to reclaim the White House.

However, the problem with the campaign was that the Republicans knew how to play the game better. Kerry had voted for the war in Iraq before he voted against it. He was labeled a flip flopper. The events of 9/11 had shaken up the nation so much that attacking Bush was still being done in the form a gentlemen's war. You could say certain things but you couldn't say them too much. The Republicans were also keen on using any Democrat barbs as attacks, ignoring the fact that they themselves produced some of the most vicious attacks ever on John Kerry. Still things looked good for Kerry and even on Election Night it seems crazy that he could have lost.

That's when we see how much the Republicans motivated then religious base who, regardless of how they felt about the war, ultimately saw John Kerry as a man in opposition with their beliefs.


Commentary with James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo

I sometimes don't like commentary tracks over documentaries simply because it sort of seems redundant. Also, the images move so quickly that if whoever is talking tries to keep up, they almost always fall behind. Stern and Del Deo do their best to provide more of an anecdotal account of how this documentary was pulled off. They talk about getting started with the project, how they got access to certain subjects, and what it was like shooting the documentary in a myriad of circumstances. Overall, this was one of the better documentary commentaries that I have listened to.


Widescreen - This documentary seemed to be very well put together. While the quality of the footage seemed to vary, it makes sense when one considers all the various threads that have gone into putting this story together. Still there was a crispness to almost every set of images and that seems to be the result of the discs very sharp DVD compression. By no means was this the best looking documentary I have ever seen, but it really was well edited and that seemed to account for it's sharp look overall.


Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo - Like I mentioned above, when one considers all the various places that this movie was shot, I am amazed that it sounds as good as it does. We're also talking about some shots (captured with a video camera) that take place very far away as campaign canvas people are talking to voters. The talking head interviews all sound great, and it's really nice that when the scenes change the sound levels don't.


A shot of George W. Bush is shown on this front cover with the Republican Elephant and Democrat Donkey standing on America. This isn't the greatest cover but it gets the point across. The back offers up a nice description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing and some technical specs. One doesn't expect the packaging for a documentary to be amazing, and that is definitely true about this release. That said, it doesn't look bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Final Word

Having worked on an internet news program for the Gallup Poll during this election, I was as close as I would ever get to the 2004 political situation. I followed all of the events covered in the movie, day after day, and I don't know that I will ever be as close to anything that politically important ever again. I was on a first name, daily, face to face basis dealing with Frank Newport. He was the face of Gallup and often appears on shows like CNN, C-Span and MSNBC. I was on the streets of New York and Princeton doing interviews and finding out people's political thoughts. It was a very interesting time and watching this movie brought back a lot of memories as I sat in my hotel room (where Gallup was putting me up) and watched all the coverage.

While sometimes this film got a little too cerebral and confusing, ultimately So Goes the Nation is yet another amazing timepiece, chronicling an extremely interesting chapter in our great nations history.

...So Goes the Nation was released January 1, 2006.