Steyer makes the cut for October debates

We haven’t even made it to the Democratic debates in Houston this week but the candidates are already jockeying for position in the October debates to be held in Ohio. And for reasons that remain a total mystery to me, billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer has somehow qualified for that round. (Steyer won’t be on the stage in Houston this week as he didn’t manage to score well enough in four approved polls.) So where is this support coming from? (Boston Globe)

Tom Steyer, the billionaire and former hedge fund investor turned impeachment activist, became the 11th Democratic presidential candidate to qualify for the October debates on Sunday after a new poll showed him with 2 percent support in Nevada.

To make the cut, candidates must procure donations from 130,000 people and earn 2 percent support in four qualifying polls. Steyer fell one poll short of qualifying for the third Democratic debate in Houston this week. But the Democratic National Committee’s rules allow polls to carry over and count toward qualification for the fourth set of debates.

When the DNC announced the requirements for the October debates in Ohio, they didn’t change them at all from the Houston rules. Everyone still needs 2% support in four approved polls and 130,000 unique donors, including a minimum number from at least twenty states.

That seems a bit disappointing, doesn’t it? I thought part of the purpose of staging this many shows was to begin winnowing down the field. By the time we get close to Halloween, there will only be a couple of months left before the actual voting begins, so it shouldn’t have been unreasonable to raise the stakes a bit, even if it was only 4% in four polls and perhaps 200,000 donors. I mean, this is a national race, after all.

But still, that seems to be why Steyer was able to squeak over the finish line to qualify for the Ohio stage. He appears to have focused a lot of his effort on Nevada, and a two percent showing there this weekend gave him the fourth poll he needed. Where his “support” is coming from is also unclear. As of this morning, his RCP national polling average was still stuck at 0.5 percent. Yesterday’s ABC News/WaPo survey had him doing a smidgen better at one percent. But he’s had the whole summer to try to build some momentum and it just doesn’t seem to be happening.

While we’re on the subject of voter appeal, what is Steyer running on anyway other than a platform of demanding Trump be impeached? It doesn’t sound as if he’s pushing any bold new plans that the rest of the pack aren’t already hyping. For quite a while now, he’s been pretty much a one-trick pony. And the trick in question is impeachment. But if he wins the presidency, Donald Trump will be gone anyway.

One last point on the upcoming debates that I wanted to hit was the recurring question of the size of the crowd on the stage. Last month I asked why the DNC couldn’t run the Houston debates over two nights even if they only had ten people qualifying. ABC News obviously has both nights open in preparation for the event and it would give each candidate more time to speak. Well, they decided not to do that, so we’ll once again have ten lecterns on a single night this week.

But with Steyer qualifying for next month, there may be a silver lining to this story. He’s the eleventh person to make the cut, so hopefully, they’ll be splitting that event out over two nights.

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