President Barack Obama, center, greets supporters at a campaign event for U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer at Wayne State University on Nov. 1 in Detroit. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

President Obama didn’t come here as much for Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters, who is heavily favored to win on Tuesday, as he did for Mark Schauer, who’s in a tight race with the incumbent governor, Rick Snyder. Or for Samantha Talbot, a 29-year-old voter at his Saturday-night rally who said she’d needed a little propping up.

“I was a little worried,” but that changed after four hours with 6,000 fellow Democrats, said Talbot, who works for a real estate attorney and asked three times that I write down that she is from Detroit, thank you very much. The president inspired her, she said: “I loved it when he said, ‘When women succeed, America succeeds,’ because it’s so true.” Now, in the final hours of the race, she’ll be joining her friends who’ve been knocking on doors for Schauer all along.

With his approval rating at only 42 percent nationally — and every other Democratic Senate candidate asking, “Obama who?” — could the president also have come here for the hugs? Even introverts have been known to like those, and it did feel like 2009 again inside the rec center on the Wayne State University campus, where the crowd chanted “O-BAM-A!” as they waited for him to take the stage.

“I’m here to support my brother,” said Chad Dillard, assistant director of general maintenance for Wayne County Community College District.

In his invocation, the Rev. Wendell Anthony, pastor of the Fellowship Chapel and longtime local president of the NAACP, thanked God for “a president who thinks before he acts and acts like he’s been doing some thinking. . . . Thank you for having his back when they break into an unlocked White House and dogs don’t bark.”

President Barack Obama speaks at a Democratic campaign rally in Detroit for U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer on Nov. 1. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

“Amen!” the crowd roared.

And from the minute the president kicked away the short stool that Peters and Schauer had stood on behind the lectern, it was a lovefest for him and the Affordable Care Act and the auto bailout that saved what the president called “our most iconic industry.”

“I love you, too,” he finally said to still the crowd, “but I want to tell you why you need to vote.”

Right-to-work legislation signed by Snyder is a major issue in his race in this pro-labor state, and Obama told the crowd that Republicans “have a lot of nerve” asking for the support of Michiganders after opposing the auto bailout. He didn’t mention Snyder by name, and in fact the governor was vague on his original position, though he later said that the issue was “overblown” in the ’12 presidential race and that the bailout had worked. He has not been as critical of the president as some others in his party have been, and he accepted the federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA that other Republican governors rejected.

This is one venue where Obamacare is seen as such a big success that every speaker touted it. When the president’s turn came, he said: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Obamacare works. Pretty soon they’re not going to call it ‘Obamacare’ any more! Ha-ha, you know that’s right.”

Among friends, he even dared mention his past life as a community organizer. When he was in that line of work, he said, slapping the back of one hand against his open palm, “the first thing I’d say is, ‘You give away your power all the time’ ” by not voting.

The opposition, “they count on you getting cynical. They hope you don’t vote, and every day they send you the message that you don’t count,” he said, and a woman in the crowd yelled, “They’re wrong!”

Then he came out with the H-word that’s become a monosyllabic punch line: “Cynicism is a choice, but hope is a better choice.”

Every competitive race comes down to turnout, of course, and that’s a persistent issue for Democrats, who outnumber Republicans nationally in voter registration but not among those who actually cast a ballot.

Which is why, if Schauer does win Tuesday, the local hero won’t be the candidate, or the president, but the man who appeared first at the podium Saturday, before the seats were filled or the audience stilled.

Lon Johnson, the high-energy, 43-year-old new state chairman of the party, found almost a million Democrats in the state who vote in presidential years but not midterms and sent them applications for absentee ballots. Historically, the return rate for those has been 94 percent.

“If it works,” Democratic former governor James Blanchard said in an interview, “he’ll be the man of the hour.”

At the microphone in the hall, Johnson said: “Does Detroit hustle harder? Do Democrats hustle harder? Well, it shows,” with the party 100,000 votes ahead in absentee votes so far.

In an interview before the event, Johnson, who is married to the Obama fundraiser Julianna Smoot, said a lot of what he knows, he learned from his own losing congressional campaign in 2012. He previously worked for the Democratic National Committee and was vice president of a private equity firm in Nashville.

“There are two paths to a midterm” victory, he said: One is winning over the voters you know will turn out. (Only, a lot of those are known by another name: Republicans.) The other is turning out the voters you know will support you if they show up. Or return the application you sent them.

“This isn’t Ohio or Florida,” he said, “where you have to be careful about the word ‘Democrat.’ ” With an advantage on paper, the close gubernatorial race really could come down to whether Michigan is blue enough to put those papers back in the mail.

Knocking on the table in front of him for emphasis, he finished this way: “We’ve got everything we need — the plan, the voters, the issues.” Then he walked away clapping, charging himself up in a press area that was still all but empty.