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Obama 2012 headquarters in west philly Credit: Justin Cohen , Justin Cohen

President Barack Obama’s campaign is doubling down in the city with a new office in West Philadelphia, around the intersection of 52nd and Walnut streets.

The office, which opened May 2, is Obama’s sixth location in Philadelphia, highlighting the importance of the city in the 2012 presidential race.

Pennsylvania is a battleground state, with Republican suburban and rural areas standing in contrast to Democratic urban areas.

“Philadelphia is going to be tremendous,” Clyde Sherman, a volunteer for Obama, said. “Pittsburgh and Philadelphia … are the most highly populated cities in Pennsylvania. You can hopefully help to balance out the state with a big turnout.”

“What’s brought us all together is believing in a common cause — organizing to help President Obama and other Democrats win this fall,” wrote Ian Conyers, the campaign’s Philadelphia regional field director, in an email to supporters earlier this month. “The new office in Philadelphia will be the hub for all that hard work for the next six months.”

The 52nd Street location “was chosen because it’s pretty much the heart of West Philadelphia,” said Cateria McCabe, another volunteer. “There’s a lot of traffic on 52nd Street.”

Activities at the office will include voter registration and phone banking, in addition to informing voters about election issues, she said.

Several teams will work out of the West Philadelphia office, including those working on outreach to Penn and Drexel University.

One of the main goals of the new office will be to increase voter turnout, Sherman said.

In 2008, 98.8 percent of voters in Ward 60, in which the new office is located, voted for Obama. Voter turnout was 62.44 percent, about one percentage point higher than the citywide average.

But Sherman said the West Philadelphia community is still “an untapped gold mine” for Democrats.

“It’s a grassroots neighborhood [and] a strong community with a lot of businesses,” Sherman said. “There are a lot of Democrats in the area.”

Another goal of the new office is to raise awareness in the area for the new voter identification law that will go into effect for the November election. The law will require all voters to present valid photo ID.

“This is another wrinkle in the process of voting,” Sherman said. He added that the new law will especially affect senior citizens who have been set in their voting ways for a long time.

With the general election six months away, volunteers are “primed up,” McCabe said.

“It’ll be like it was in 2008, hopefully,” Sherman said.

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