Web Whiz Ron Paul Faces Test of Offline Presidential Appeal

The numbers appear to bear Germany's statement out. One way of judging the strength of a presidential campaign is by its fundraising patterns, Germany notes. Small and consistent donations are important. Impressed by Paul's online support, pundits such as Republican e-campaign strategist Patrick Ruffini had predicted that the congressman would raise around $4 million for the second quarter. Instead, he raised $2.4 million. That doesn't seem to deter Ruffini. This time around, he's predicting that Paul will place second in Ames.

Ahead of Saturday's event, Paul's campaign staffers are drumming up support both online and off. They sent out fundraising e-mails this week, and volunteers are urged on his campaign website to donate either time or money to help turn out supporters.

And like his rivals, Paul has spent the week crisscrossing the state, introducing himself and making himself familiar to Iowans. His campaign has also released one television advertisement and three different sets of radio spots -- the television ad is viewable on YouTube.

Donations have enabled the campaign to buy 800 tickets for Paul supporters to attend and vote in the Iowa straw poll. In contrast, his more well-funded rivals have bought thousands of tickets to give to potential supporters, and they've organized buses to transport supporters to the event, as well as providing free food and entertainment. Paul's supporters are organizing transport for themselves through Meetup and Craigslist.

Some Paul supporters have even discussed using Romney's largesse to get to the poll this Saturday.

For their part, Paul's campaign officials are maintaining an upbeat tone as they try to manage expectations for Paul's performance.

"We just want to have a respectable turnout," says Jesse Benton, Paul's communications director. "We're certainly working hard and activating our grass-roots network ... (but) in the end, it's not this cataclysmic event for us."

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