In just five days, Iowa Republicans will have the first say in selecting their party's nominee for president.
Having seen every candidate but Mitt Romney, and the responses to those candidates, I believe Ron Paul is in a surprisingly strong position.
Though it seemed like an impossible mission before the Iowa Straw Poll, Ron Paul must be channeling Tom Cruise's mojo and is now poised to be Iowa's -- though not the nation's -- pick to challenge President Barack Obama in November.
How has Paul catapulted himself from outlier to frontrunner in Iowa?
His supporters have, even as criticisms persist.
They love how Paul wants to scale back everything federally run, including military efforts and humanitarian aid, while leaving organizations such as the United Nations and North Atlantic Trade Association. He claims receiving more donations from active military than any other candidate, but by no means does that mean the majority of military personnel support him.
They love how Paul has, for years, led the charge to audit the Federal Reserve and hate the findings almost as much as he does. They love how he wants to do something about the deficit, proposing $1 trillion in cuts in his first year. It's the specific cuts that detractors can't swallow.
They love how his proposals would peel back layers of regulations, eliminate federal agencies and give more control to the states. While he believes industries should regulate themselves, that notion scares critics.
They love how his record of voting against all tax increases and giving back more than $100,000 of his congressional office budget shows he is consistently fiscally conservative. Not to mention he wants to eliminate the income tax and Internal Revenue Service. It's hard to argue with a budget hawk, but can tax reform be as simple as he claims?
They love how he wants to reform some social programs and slash others completely. Poverty and senior advocates worry about the lack of a safety net.
More than anything, they love how Paul stands for extremely limited government.
Of course, Paul's organization has a little something to do with his fan base.
His test run in 2008 riled up young conservatives across the country. Those youngsters are four years older and ready to head to the Caucuses this go-around, whether that was the case back then or not.
Ageism has no place in Paul's camp, though. He's 76 and has no trouble attracting Tea Party types and libertarians of all ages, while moderates often look elsewhere.
He's budgeted well and watched other candidates crash and burn, while he continued to preach the same sermon he's delivered for decades.
For that reason, his consistency cannot be questioned. In fact, instead of a flip-flop, maybe they should call Paul the steel-toed boot. He's just that stubborn, and that harms the possibility of compromise.
Despite the loyal base of supporter who clamor over that consistency, Paul has plenty of detractors in his own party, not to mention Independents and Democrats.
They fear him for many of the same reasons his fans adore him: reducing the military's scope and size, potentially shrinking the safety net for vulnerable Americans, eliminating regulations and allowing for 50 different sets of laws in many cases.
While this group is the majority, they will be split between six other candidates -- none of which is a clear-cut favorite -- Tuesday night in Iowa.
With that in mind, here's a prediction of the results.
1. Ron Paul has the most loyal supporters who will not only show up and bring friends, but also do their darnedest to persuade others to switch their votes. If this happens and he performs poorly elsewhere, Iowa's credibility will decrease.
2. Newt Gingrich is so intellectual and such a strong debater that caucus-goers are willing to forgive some of his past transgressions for a chance to beat Obama.
3. Rick Santorum is a bit of a sleeper, but has been gaining supporters who have done their homework and will work to convince others to join them to "Pick Rick."
4. Mitt Romney will become the second eventual Republican presidential nominee to finish fourth in Iowa, largely because Iowans perceive him as slick and may not approve of his Mormon heritage.
5. Rick Perry could easily switch places with the other Rick, as he has shaken off some poor debate performances like Tim Tebow shrugs off defenders on his way to the end zone. (That was actually Perry's comparison and it may ring true.)
6. Michele Bachmann may be a Christian from Iowa, but that doesn't mean all Iowan Christians want to see her as the head of the country, considering she believes women should submit to their husbands and pastors.
7. Jon Huntsman ignored Iowans and Iowans will return the favor. Maybe he'll learn his lesson for 2016 or 2020.