Detroit, Michigan

16 days before the election.
Population (Estimated): 800,000
2004 Election: Kerry 70%, Bush 30%
2008 Election: Obama 74%, McCain 25%, Other 1%
(map)

A reference to Detroit is almost always accompanied by a warning or joke.

And the city we found on Sunday is indeed filled with houses so empty that they are folding in on themselves. A small garrison of homeless folks patrolled the strip in the center of town looking to convince some of runners from the Detroit marathon to spend a bit of their money on a local before returning to the suburbs. Graham, who grew up in the nearby communities of Ann Arbor and Gross Pointe and has covered the underbelly of the city extensively, related that in all but a few blocks of the city, police officers expect to be fired upon in many situations.

But there are those few blocks. A bubble of downtown where newly constructed casinos rise to join the skyline dominated by GM’s Renaissance Center, which itself is only 12 years old. But since the economic struggles of the city go back decades not years, so much so, that they are part of the fabric of the community, these renovations were not mentioned by the folks we interviewed. The only person we found on Sunday who said things were getting better in Detroit, was youthful devout Christian.

As we did in Ashland, we found a recurring theme of animosity toward Wall Street and frustration with local and national government. The supporters of Obama, the majority in this Democratic stronghold, have taken on an air of victory. But much of their commentary reflected problems with the current administration rather than endorsement of a new one.

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