The Hill's Campaign Report: Deadline day for Dems to make January debate

The Hill's Campaign Report: Deadline day for Dems to make January debate

Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching this week on the campaign trail. 



LEADING THE DAY: Debate stage expected to get a little smaller as deadline looms

It's deadline day, and the Democratic debate stage is expected to get a little bit smaller.

The White House hopefuls have until midnight to hit 5 percent support in four national polls or 7 percent support in two early-state polls to qualify for the Jan. 14 debate in Des Moines, Iowa, which takes place only weeks before voters in the Hawkeye State gather for the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Candidates also must have received donations from 225,000 unique donors.


Here is who has qualified so far: 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Sanders press secretary: 'Principal concern' of Biden appointments should be policy DeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump MORE (I-Vt.)


Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration Disney chair says he would consider job in Biden administration if asked Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (D-Mass.)

Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate committee approves nominations of three FEC commissioners Scammers step up efforts to target older Americans during pandemic Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk MORE (D-Minn.)

Businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls MORE


There have been a raft of early-state polls released in the past 24 hours, and we know of at least one more big qualifying survey that's coming later in the day from the Des Moines Register, largely considered the gold standard in Iowa polling.

But in all likelihood, tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Andrew Yang: Democrats need to adopt message that government is 'working for them' MORE's debate run will come to an end, at least for now. Yang has blown past the fundraising threshold, bringing in an astonishing $16.5 million in the fourth quarter. But he has hit only one qualifying survey, and it seems unlikely he will be able reach the higher bar for polling by the end of the day.

If you're scratching your head as to how Steyer managed to make it back to the debate stage, you're not alone.

Steyer, a billionaire who has pumped tens of millions of dollars into his own campaign, announced last week that he hit the donor threshold. But he has been languishing in the low-single digits in most polls and appeared poised to miss the cut until a couple of shocking surveys released last night found him surging in South Carolina and Nevada.

A Fox News survey of Nevada found Steyer jumping by 7 points and pulling into a third place tie with Warren at 12 percent support. And a separate Fox News poll of South Carolina found Steyer surging into second place with 15 percent support, a jump of 11 points from October. 

Are the surveys outliers or do they reflect how effective it can be to spend tens of millions of dollars in Nevada and South Carolina, the third and fourth states to vote, while your rivals are focused almost exclusively on Iowa and New Hampshire?

It's unclear at this point, but we know this much -- billionaire cash has completely upended the Democratic primary.

According to 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 BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE, a fellow billionaire who has spent more than $150 million of his own money on campaign ads.

-- Jonathan



Unprecedented ad drive puts Bloomberg on the political map, by The Hill's Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley.

See where Michael Bloomberg is spending his massive fortune, by The Hill's Reid Wilson

Trump, Bloomberg ignite spending boom with Super Bowl ads, by Jonathan

DNC defends 'inclusive' standards with some 2020 Democrats set to miss January debate, by The Hill's Tal Axelrod.

DNC chairman could reschedule debate if it conflicts with impeachment trial, by The Hill's John Bowden.




It's been a head-spinning week on the foreign policy front, as turmoil in the Middle East has the Democratic White House hopefuls facing a commander-in-chief test with the Iowa caucuses less than a month away. President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE's authorization last week of a drone strike that killed an elite Iranian general in Iraq touched off a heated debate among the Democratic presidential candidates over foreign policy, Julia reports. While the field of hopefuls was largely united in condemning the strike as having imperiled U.S. national security, the topic also threatened to dredge up memories of the Iraq War and the 2002 vote to authorize the use of force there.


Sanders, in particular, hasn't pulled any punches against Biden in the foreign policy debate, Max reports. He's attacked the former vice president in recent days over his initial support for the war in Iraq, accusing him of helping lead the U.S. into "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country." But Biden has sought to use the recent drone strike in Iran to talk up his foreign policy credentials and relationships with world leaders.


Joe Biden is running a general election campaign in the middle of a primary. Unlike most of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, the former vice president's rhetoric and campaign strategy have hewed more towards courting centrists and independents instead of the liberal base that typically carries the most influence in primary contests, The Hill's Amie Parnes reports. It's an unusual strategy, but one that appears to be working for Biden. He's managed to hold on to his frontrunner status for months, despite a series of uneven debate performances and criticism from the Democratic Party's ascendant progressive wing.



Days after announcing that he would suspend his presidential campaign, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian CastroJulian CastroJulian Castro announces relaunch of 'Adios Trump!' shirts to raise money for young immigrants Sanders says Democrats should have given more speaking time to progressives Castro says DNC should have put more Latino speakers on stage from beginning MORE threw his support behind Warren, saying that he was "proud" to endorse the Massachusetts senator "in her fight for big, structural change," The Hill's Aris Folley reports



Reid Wilson: History is not on Biden's side.

Bill Scher: Iowa matters less than ever in 2020.

Ronald Brownstein: Democrats ignore the Sun Belt at their own peril.

Matt Taibbi: Notes from the most unpredictable primary race ever.



Republicans are playing defense in this year's race for the Senate, but Democrats likely have a tough fight ahead in their bid to take control of the chamber. Max has a look at the five most vulnerable senators up for reelection. Four of them are Republicans...


Republican John James outraised Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (D-Mich.) in the fourth quarter of 2019, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports. In total, James raised $3.5 million in the final three months of the year, while Peters raked in about $2.5 million. The fundraising haul is likely to buoy Republicans' hopes of ousting Peters in 2020. Still, Peters has raised more throughout the campaign cycle, bringing in about $9.3 million in 2019 compared to James's $8 million. And despite Trump's victory in Michigan in 2016, the state appears to be shifting back in favor of Democrats. 

Detroit News poll: Peters has a small lead over James.


Small dollar donors contributed more than $1 million  to Democratic candidates and groups in 2019 through the online platform ActBlue, The Hill's Reid Wilson reports


South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison, who is challenging Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBiden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country The Memo: Harris moves signal broad role as VP Former US attorney asks for probe of allegations Graham pressured Georgia official MORE, raked in more than $3.5 million in the last three months, The Hill's Rebecca Klar reports


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo knocks Turkey in NATO speech: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates US to temporarily withdraw some embassy personnel in Baghdad: report MORE will not leave his post in Foggy Bottom to run for an open Senate seat in Kansas this year, The Hill's Reid Wilson reports


Democratic Senate hopeful Mark Kelly is leading Arizona Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGabby Giffords congratulates Mark Kelly with throwback photo of her own swearing-in Mark Kelly sworn in to Senate seat Sen.-elect Mark Kelly visits John McCain's grave ahead of swearing-in MORE (R) among the state's voters, according to a survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling


President Trump will hold a campaign rally on Jan. 28 in former Democratic -- and now Republican -- Rep. Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? The Hill's Campaign Newsletter: Election Day – Part 4 Van Drew fends off challenge from Kennedy after party switch MORE's (R-N.J.) district roughly a month after the congressman switched his party affiliation amid his opposition to impeachment. 



MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY:  Buttigieg and Sanders have seen a spike in support in New Hampshire and are now knotted with Biden and Warren at the top.

CBS BATTLEGROUND TRACKER: Sanders leads the Democratic field in New Hampshire followed by Biden and Warren. Buttigieg rounded out the top four. 

FOX NEWS: Biden and Sanders are on top in Nevada, while Biden maintains a big lead in South Carolina.

MORNING CONSULT: Biden leads Trump by 6 points in a head-to-head matchup. Sanders, Bloomberg and Buttigieg also lead the president in the poll. 

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING: Biden and Trump are tied in Arizona. Trump beat Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg in head-to-head matchups in the same poll. 



There are 24 days until the Iowa caucuses, 32 days until the New Hampshire primary, 43 days until the Nevada caucuses, 50 days until the South Carolina primary and 53 days until Super Tuesday.



THE PERRY FACTOR: Hollywood political circles were abuzz this week after People Magazine reported on Thursday that popstar Katy Perry dined with Michael Bloomberg at Wolfgang Puck's CUT in the Beverly Wilshire hotel. 

The publication reports that Perry chatted about her candidate and policy preferences at the dinner, which was also attended by her friends. 

Perry has not endorsed Bloomberg, whose campaign told People that they "don't confirm private meetings. 

The singer has never been shy about her political views and had a ringside seat during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Perry endorsed 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE's candidacy, performing a number of times at her campaign events on the trail. She even took over Clinton's Instagram in 2015 and dressed up as the candidate for Halloween in 2016. 


While we don't know of any plans for Perry to endorse Bloomberg, we do know that the former New York City mayor did score one notable celebrity endorsement this week. 

Judge Judy Sheindlin, commonly known as Judge Judy, ruled in favor of Bloomberg this week, telling CNN that she believed he was the only candidate capable of defeating Trump. 

We'll keep you updated on endorsements and more campaign news in next week's edition of The Hill's Campaign Report. Until then, court is adjourned!