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 SteyerYouth voting organization launches M registration effort in key battlegrounds Overnight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline 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 WarrenOver 80 lawmakers urge Biden to release memo outlining his authority on student debt cancellation Kelly pushes back on Arizona Democrats' move to censure Sinema Fiscal conservatives should support postal reform  MORE (D-Mass.) at 12 percent support. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Clyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes Overnight Defense & National Security — US delivers written response to Russia MORE led with 23 percent, followed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — No SALT, and maybe no deal Menendez goes after Sanders over SALT comments It's time for the Senate to vote: Americans have a right to know where their senators stand 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 ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Airlines suspend US flights in response to 5G deployment AT&T, Verizon to delay 5G rollout near certain airports MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Biden celebrates 'right to repair' wins Advocacy groups urge Congress to tackle tech giants' auto industry focus Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE have qualified for the January debate, which takes place less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangBottom line American elections are getting less predictable; there's a reason for that Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run 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 BloombergHow Biden can correct the course in his second year Biden's Jan. 6 speech was a missed opportunity to unite the nation Democrats must face the reality of their Latino voter problem MORE, a fellow billionaire who has spent more than $140 million of his own money on campaign ads.