Ames Straw Poll 2011: Countdown To Iowa Event (LATEST UPDATES)

The race for the Republican presidential nomination is heating up ahead of the Ames Straw Poll. A test of conservative strength, the table-setter for next year's Iowa caucuses will take place on Saturday.

The following six candidates are actively campaigning in the event: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.), U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). Three additional GOP contenders who are not aggressively seeking to lock up support in the straw poll will appear on the ballot: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Ames Patch reports that write-in votes will be allowed for the first time at this year's event.

Texas Governor Rick Perry will not appear on the ballot and is not expected to be on the ground in the Hawkeye State this weekend; however, the Lone Star State Republican is nevertheless capturing headlines with news of his intention to run for president.

We're following the latest developments to unfold in Iowa. Check out the live blog below.