This is an important straw poll for the Paul campaign. Real Clear Politics writes:
It is misleading to say that one candidate or another is the wild card going into Ames. The second-tier candidates are all wild cards, as are the top-tier candidates who aren’t competing. But Texas Congressman Ron Paul is one who could surprise in a big way. A campaign spokesman says Paul’s Iowa campaign team is making phone calls, but the camp won’t be busing in supporters and won’t ply voters with barbecue, two things every other campaign will do to woo anyone with a ballot.
In advance of the straw poll, Paul has become just the second Republican to air television ads in Iowa. And Paul has an undeniable following on the internet. Whether his campaign is working with those people to organize them into a massive group to travel to Ames is unknown, but if he is successful, Paul could take a significant share of the vote from other candidates. For all the internet buzz, Ames will be the first test of his actual support. Whatever the outcome for Paul, going into Saturday with absolutely no expectations — either positive or negative — is a good thing. He either impresses, if he does well, or is left out of the stories, which is better for him than failing to meet expectations.