For many years — perhaps even decades — Detroit has been the poster child for economic malaise. Adjusting for inflation, per capita income in metro Detroit dropped more than 20 percent between 1999 and 2010.
Some analysts say regional cooperation might have helped keep Detroit above water when the car industry sank, but that entrenched divisions that pit the city against its suburbs, and blacks against whites, have hindered that.
In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama won nearly all the African-American vote. And this year, a recent poll found that less than 1 percent of black voters will back Mitt Romney. But in Ohio, as NPR's Allison Keyes found out, some black voters are agonizing over whether to vote in November at all.
Over the past four years, the presidential narrative has shifted for African-Americans like Louisiana state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith of Baton Rouge.
"I'm 66 years old," said Smith, at an event Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., for black state legislators here for the Democratic National Convention. "And before 2008, I didn't think I'd live to see a dream come true."