Ron Paul, Ames Contender

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Is Ron Paul the candidate to beat at Ames this year?

The Texas congressman may be sixth in the national polls, according to the RealClearPolitics average, but when it comes to winning straw polls, no one is better. Smart organizing and an especially dedicated base propelled Paul to victory at the CPAC straw poll in both 2010 and 2011. More recently, Paul won the straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference this June, beating a crop of popular GOP candidates, including Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. While attention is focused on the Bachmann–Pawlenty rivalry (and how many write-in votes possible candidate Rick Perry can score), Paul may just swoop in and be in the top three — or win outright.