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Obama wins landslide victory in Hamburg's Coffee Bean Caucus

BY ERIC CLARK | NOVEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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While the presidential race is widely considered to be neck-and-neck between President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the Coffee Bean Caucus held by the Hamburg Inn No. 2 produced different results.

The Hamburg Inn, 214 N. Linn St., has held the caucus for 10 years. This year marks the third presidential election that has been included in the restaurant’s contest.

In a previous interview with The Daily Iowan, owner Dave Panther said the caucus has been a great way to promote his business.

“It’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Panther said. “It’s a great marketing tool that gives us a local, state, national, and even international presence.

Customers casted their votes by dropping coffee beans labeled with the name of the prospective presidential candidates, as well as the candidates for the 2nd Congressional District House seat.

Employees set the jars out immediately after the Republican and Democratic Conventions. The votes were tallied on Sunday.

Seth Dudley, the manager of the Hamburg Inn, said the turnout for the caucus was about the same as the last presidential election.

“People drive from out of town to come and cast their vote,” he said. “Even the kids have fun with it. They loving dropping the beans in the jars.”

In the 2nd Congressional District caucus, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, beat Republican opponent John Archer by a tally of 1,784 to 452. In the presidential caucus, Obama beat Romney, 6,001 to 1,741. 

Dudley said the most surprising tally he saw was for “vinegar.” He said votes cast for vinegar represented a none-of-the-above vote.

Tim Hagle, a UI associate professor of political science, said the caucus results should not be compared to the results of the actual election.

“The results themselves aren’t all that valuable,” he said. “They aren’t much of an indicator.”

Hagle said while the specific votes may not be indicative of the presidential race, the coffee-bean caucus can be valuable in terms of gauging enthusiasm for the election.

Terry Dahms, head of the Johnson County Democrats, said Obama’s landslide victory in the caucuses is not remotely valuable in terms of the actual election.

“It’s going to be a nail-biter,” he said.

While the focus of the caucuses was undoubtedly the presidential race, Dahms said the 2nd Congressional District vote was important as well.

“If Obama is going to have the legacy he deserves, he’s going to need some help from Congress,” he said.

Bob Anderson, the head of the Johnson County Republicans, said the coffee-bean caucus won't be indicative of the national presidential-election results, but it is generally reflective of the immediate area’s votes.

“These sort of things are fun and show the lighter side of an election cycle,” he said.         

Hagle said although the results could be seen as particularly slanted to those who aren’t familiar with Johnson County, they did not necessarily surprise him.     

“I would’ve been very surprised if Romney had won,” he said.

Dudley was not surprised by the results, either.

“Iowa City tends to be pretty liberal,” he said.


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