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Go Blue!

Why Michigan is going to be this year’s Florida.

It's also no wonder that Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint were three of the top five media markets nationally for the number of political advertisements in the week following the party conventions, according to the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project. Grand Rapids alone saw 1,197 of them.

Most polls have given Obama a small lead but he has special problems here. Because of the Democrats' wrangle over delegate rules, Obama did not campaign in the state's primary. "There's a lot of catch-up going on," says Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat.

"If you like what Jennifer Granholm has done in Michigan, you'll love what Barack Obama will do for America," says Anuzis, reciting the Republicans' battle cry. But Democrats like Stabenow scoff at the idea that Republicans will be able to use Granholm to dodge local ire over President Bush's policies.

Obama is counting on a huge African-American vote in Detroit, but the city's politics are in turmoil following Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's departure from office Thursday as part of a plea agreement related to perjury charges. Anuzis said the controversy has left the Detroit Democratic organization "splintered and divided." And a pro-McCain group has run an ad, clearly aimed at white suburban voters, linking Obama and Kilpatrick.

"It is one of the most taboo subjects people can talk about," Anuzis adds. "Every time I bring it up, people cringe."

But by forcing Obama to sharpen his economic appeal, the bad news from Wall Street may prove to be a particularly potent tonic for his chances here. Former Democratic Congressman David Bonior believes that a very bad economy will brush aside "the Reagan Democrat social issues that are normally important in our state." So does Stabenow.

E.J. Dionne, Jr. is the author of the recently published Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right. He is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a professor at Georgetown University.

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.