The film is based on actual events. While the film portrays all three consultants as being in Russia during the entire campaign, Gorton, Dresner and Shumate flew in and out of Russia during the five month period from February through July, 1996. Usually, two of the three were in Russia while the other was in the USA. This was a safety precaution, so if something went wrong in Russia, the member of the team in the US could get the other two out.
Not portrayed in the film is Steven Moore who, at 27 years old, was the junior member of the team who stayed in Moscow during the entire campaign. Much of the script was drafted using the daily memos that Moore wrote to keep the traveling senior consultants informed of developments on the campaign.
The hotel portrayed in the movie where Gorton, Dresner and Shumate stayed and Tatiana ran the campaign was the "President Hotel." This hotel was known as the "Oktiabraskaya" during Soviet Times, and was where the Soviet Politburo stayed when in Moscow. In addition to a Kremlin view and crystal chandeliers, each room was equipped with gas masks, and the hotel compound was said to be secretly linked to the Moscow metro system for occupants to escape or reinforcements to arrive.
After the Yeltsin campaign, Gorton went on to be Arnold Schwarzenegger's political consultant, running Arnold's first campaign. The initiative, Proposition 49, created after school programs for kids and gave Arnold the credibility on public policy issues that propelled him to win the 2003 recall election for governor in California. Gorton also consulted to Arnold on the recall election.
The scene where Shumate (played by Liev Schreiber) is stacking furniture against the door of his hotel is something that really happened, and happened more than once. The consultants' paranoia is well founded. During the 1996 election cycle in Russia, the campaign manager for the mayor of St. Petersburg had acid thrown in his face, and the running mate for the mayor of Moscow was critically injured in a car bomb.