In the 1980s, Michigan's blue-collar workers gave their name to a generation of swing voters - the "Reagan Democrats" - who enthusiastically backed Republican Ronald Reagan.
Bill Clinton had to work hard in 1992 and 1996 to win these voters back.
Michigan voters stuck with the Democrats in subsequent presidential and congressional elections and the state is expected to stay Democrat in 2008.
Population: 10,095,643 (ranked 8 among states)
Governor: Jennifer Granholm (D)
Electoral College votes: 17
Michigan is the home of the motor car and has long been associated with mass production industries. It was the car that transformed a largely agricultural state into a booming industrial one in the first 30 years of the 20th Century.
The economy had already experienced rapid growth in the lumber and copper industries in the 19th Century, but it was the arrival of Henry Ford, followed by General Motors and Chrysler, that transformed the state's fortunes. By 1930 Detroit - the home of the state's car industry - had a population of 2.2 million and it became a magnet for unemployed workers from neighbouring states.
As well as generating wealth and opportunity, Michigan's industrial base spawned some of the fiercest labour disputes in US history and coloured the state's politics until the 1960s. At the end of the 1930s there were many strikes, most famously at the General Motors plant at Flint in 1937.
House of Representatives:
6 Democrat, 9 Republican
Senate: 2 Democrat
The car industry has never fully recovered from the disastrous effects of the 1973 oil crisis, and today is under intense pressure from more productive and efficient competition. Many foreign companies now have their own US plants elsewhere in the country.
Michigan suffered during the post-9/11 recession, and it still has the highest unemployment rate of any state in the US.
2004: Bush 48%, Kerry 51%
2000: Bush 46%, Gore 51%
1996: Clinton 52%, Dole 39%
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