ABC News' Jason Volack reports:
Rep. Ron Paul placed second in today’s Ames straw poll, greatly improving on his results four years ago. “Dr. Paul’s finish earned him a strong second place and it was the fourth highest vote total ever received by a candidate at the important test of candidate strength,” campaign chairman Jesse Barton said in a statement immediately after the results were released. “Dr. Paul is surging in this race, and today’s results show the strength of his grassroots support and top notch organization.” Ron Paul won 4,671 votes in today’s Iowa Republican Straw Poll garnering him 27.6 percent of the vote versus 28.5 percent for first place finisher and native Iowan Michele Bachmann. All week the campaign has been trying to tamper down the expectations –- never declaring that Paul would outright win at today’s straw poll. “Chances are reasonable -- if I finish fourth or fifth or sixth -– I would not be very happy, it would be very discouraging,” Paul said at a campaign stop in Waterloo, Iowa, on Wednesday. “I certainly hope and expect that we would do significantly better than we did last time.” Paul finished fifth four years ago, but it seems he has learned since then. For this election, his campaign was the first to have an office in Iowa. Since he announced his candidacy in May, Paul has visited the state at least once a week. He went on a media binge starting in July, launching TV and radio advertising across Iowa that highlights his credentials as a fiscal conservative. Paul has also been a prodigious fundraiser this time around. A recent “Ready, Ames, Fire” 24-hour online fundraiser netted $550,000. And Paul raked in more than $4.5 million in the last fundraising quarter, the second most of any GOP candidate. On Tuesday evening, he embarked on a two-day, five-city Iowa swing with his son Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. At a campaign meet-and-greet in Fairfield, Iowa, more than 200 people showed up. In Ames, his campaign team made the top bid, $31,000, to garner the most prominent tent spot at today's straw poll. His campaign also arranged to bus scores of supporters from across the state to the poll. Paul is now looking forward to New Hampshire, where he will open his state’s campaign headquarters Wednesday.