AMES, Iowa — Most of the attention heading into this weekend's Iowa straw poll is on Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, yet the lesser-known Republican candidates for president are working equally as hard to pull off a surprise.
And that might even be possible. The Republican governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, says the straw poll is wide open. He warns against buying into the conventional wisdom that there are any front-runners for the nonbinding vote.
The outcome of the straw poll on Saturday in Ames can indicate both the popularity of the candidates as well as which campaign has the strongest organization in Iowa, the state that launches the presidential nominating season.
Often, overlooked candidates like Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul focus for months on the quiet business of grass-roots organizing.
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