Catherine Haskins is 36 and has never bothered to vote in a presidential election. She says that will change Nov. 4 when she votes for Barack Obama.
Until now, Haskins, a single mom and small business owner in Washington Park, one of this city's poorest neighborhoods, never believed that any presidential candidate could make a difference in her life or the lives of her three sons.
In Obama, she says, she sees a politician who was raised by his own single mom and by his grandparents, a former community organizer who worked in Chicago neighborhoods much like her own. "He gets it. He's lived it," she says.
Illinois, which sent Obama to the U.S. Senate in 2004 with 70% of the vote, could help elect the USA's first African-American president. That prospect has prompted some people here to set aside cynical attitudes about politicians, says Haskins, owner of a car wash and detailing business. "I just know that he's going to make things better for people like me," she says.