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 SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout 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 WarrenCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Mass.) at 12 percent support. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE led with 23 percent, followed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities 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 ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharPolice killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick Cortez Masto says she's not interested in being Biden VP Voting rights, public health officials roll out guidelines to protect voters from COVID-19 MORE have qualified for the January debate, which takes place less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit 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 BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE, a fellow billionaire who has spent more than $140 million of his own money on campaign ads.