Picture a county fair, add in free food, political pandering and a decision that could end presidential ambitions and you've got the Ames, Iowa straw poll going on today.

Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann are competing for Iowa Republicans' non-binding but highly sought votes.

For Bachmann, it is a chance to prove she is no mere flash of passion, that she's got tangible might behind her presidential effort. Most predictors believe she will place high in the poll results, which should be available around 6 p.m.

For Pawlenty, it is a fight for the life of his years long glance toward the White House. At the bottom of public opinions polls, he has an organization -- and dozens of volunteer Minnesotan helpers, some of whom motored down tweeting-- that could place him in a position allow him to redeem himself.

Both candidates are joining the fray to induce Iowans to come out to vote. After weeks of campaigning, from corn fields to the state fair, their campaigns are bussing in voters offering them music, good eats and free tickets to get their votes. 

On Saturday morning, Pawlenty campaign manager Nick Ayers and former first lady Mary Pawlenty were in the parking lot, climbing on every bus that is arriving in the campaigns' spot. Every single voters gets a free green Pawlenty shirt and has a "T" for "Tim" marked on their hands, in Sharpie ink. The voters are told they'll get the "P" for "Pawlenty" once they vote.

The orange-shirted Bachmann volunteers are offering voters golf cart rides across the massive, long parking lot.

But the rides don't come without a pledge.

"Are you going to Bachmann?"

The walking-tired Iowans say they are.

Driver: "Be honest with me."

They won their ride.

At an early morning breakfast, both Pawlenty and Bachmann said they are feeling confident  going into the day's voting.

"We're very excited," said Bachmann, who wore a blue and white skirt and cardigan outfit, making a repeat appearance on the campaign trail.

"I feel really good," Pawlenty, wearing a slightly rumpled button-down and jeans, said. 

Pawlenty added some advice for reporters: "Wear sunscreen today."

Keep checking the Hot Dish blog, our tweets and inexpert photos at @rachelsb   for more news of the day.