Steyer qualifies for Iowa debate after surprise surge in Nev., S.C. polls

Steyer qualifies for Iowa debate after surprise surge in Nev., S.C. polls
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Billionaire businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerTV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month Inslee calls Biden climate plan 'perfect for the moment' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration finalizes plan to open up Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling | California finalizes fuel efficiency deal with five automakers, undercutting Trump | Democrats use vulnerable GOP senators to get rare win on environment MORE appears to have qualified for Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate in Iowa on the strength of his surprise showing in two Fox News polls released Thursday, just a day before the qualifying deadline.

A Fox News survey of Nevada found Steyer jumping 7 points and pulling into a third place tie with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Warren, Khanna request IG investigation into Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mass.) at 12 percent support. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE led with 23 percent, followed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher 'there will be a number of plans' to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters MORE (I-Vt.) at 17 percent. 

A separate Fox News poll of South Carolina found Steyer surging into second place with 15 percent support, an 11 point gain from October. Biden has a big lead over the field with 36 percent in South Carolina, according to the poll.

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These unexpected results appear to have earned Steyer a late entry into next week’s Democratic debate, as candidates have until Friday to hit 5 percent support in four national polls or 7 percent support in two early-state polls to qualify.

The Democratic National Committee counts the Fox News polls as qualifying surveys, giving Steyer two early-state polls in which he surpassed the 7 percent mark.

Steyer’s campaign announced last week that he’d reached the 225,000 unique donors threshold to qualify.

In addition to Steyer, Biden, Sanders, Warren, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBillionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November Buttigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE have qualified for the January debate, which takes place less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangBiden's latest small business outreach is just ... awful Doctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls MORE, who raised an astonishing $16.5 million in the fourth quarter, is at risk of missing the benchmark for the debate stage. He did not reach the polling numbers in either of the Fox News surveys released Thursday or the Monmouth University survey of New Hampshire. He has only one qualifying poll under his belt with the deadline looming.

Steyer’s late qualification is a stunning turn of events for the billionaire, who has sunk tens of millions of dollars of his own money into a campaign that had, until now, failed to produce any meaningful upward movement in the polls.

According to the latest data from Advertising Analytics, Steyer has spent $67 million on the airwaves so far, more than the rest of the Democratic field combined, with the exception of former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Democratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Bloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons in Florida so they can vote MORE, a fellow billionaire who has spent more than $140 million of his own money on campaign ads.