Ames, Iowa (CNN) - Call it an unofficial sign of campaign strength.
As I took the exit off I-35 earlier this morning for the Iowa State campus in Ames, the only campaign signs along the highway belonged to Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas who's making his third bid for the White House.
Heading west on Route 30 toward campus, where today's crucial GOP straw poll is being held, more and more Paul signs were visible along the side of the highway, along with campaign signs for former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Paul, who enjoys the backing of energetic and enthusiastic supporters, is one of the favorites to finish at or near the top of the straw poll, a non-binding but crucial early contest on the road to the GOP presidential nomination. Santorum is anything but a favorite, but he's been campaigning nonstop across Iowa over the past three weeks and his strong stances on social conservative issues could help him among Hawkeye state voters.