Tom Steyer’s debate problem: campaign calls for expansion of criteria
LOS ANGELES, CA.-JULY 29, 2014: President of NextGen Climate Tom Steyer visits LAC and USC Medical Center in Los Angeles on July 29, 2014. The founder of Farallon Capitol hedge fund, which he sold, Steyer is now deeply involved environmental issues. (Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA.-JULY 29, 2014: President of NextGen Climate Tom Steyer  visits LAC and USC Medical
"We are calling on the DNC to expand their polling criteria to include more qualifying polling"

Tom Steyer has a problem, he can’t seem to get into the debates.

Now, his campaign is calling for the expansion of DNC polling criteria required to earn debate spot.

Heather Hargreaves, Steyer’s campaign manager, issued the following statement:

“The polling is clear. In just over six weeks, Tom’s message of breaking the corporate stranglehold in Washington is resonating in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. The American people deserve to hear this message in September but are being denied by the lack of recent qualifying polls. 

“Today, we are calling on the DNC to expand their polling criteria to include more qualifying polling, including at least one poll in Nevada before the deadline next week. As a party, we want to ensure the will of the voters is respected.”

It’s true that in the weeks since Steyer announced his bid for president, he’s gained some steam in the polls. 

Pledging $100M into his campaign, he’s gone from a relatively unknown candidate to polling above Andrew Yang and Beto O’Rourke in some states.

The problem for the Steyer campaign is those polls aren’t sanctioned by the DNC. The DNC polling requirement states candidates have to poll at “2 percent support or more in four national or early-state polls” but only certain DNC sanctioned polls qualify, according to Ballotpedia

It’s a benchmark the former hedge-fund executive turned activist has been unable to hit, despite throwing large amounts of money into his campaign, focusing on early primary states and polling at seven to eight percent in some non-sanctioned polls. 

Steyer’s campaign thinks it’s unfair to the candidate, whose message is clearly resonating with voters in the states he’s been strategically pursuing like Iowa and Nevada.

According to a news release from the Steyer campaign:

“In just the last week alone, Steyer has surpassed the required two percent threshold in multiple polls in early primary states. Steyer has polled at seven percent in Morning Consult’s early states poll and six percent in Gravis’ Nevada poll, but [neither poll is] DNC-sanctioned despite coming from credible polling organizations with long track records.”

Clearly, Hargreaves and the rest of the people behind Steyer’s campaign understand the importance of earning a debate seat, but it remains to be seen if Steyer will be on the DNC debate stage in September.

Melissa S. Razdrih

Melissa S. Razdrih is a Tampa correspondent for Florida Politics. Razdrih graduated with a Bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa in 2006 and went on to earn a Master's degree before switching gears to write professionally. Since then, Razdrih has been published in national blogs, like PopSugar, and local publications, like Tampa Bay Business and Wealth, on everything from self-care to cryptocurrency, but politics is her passion. Contact her at [email protected].


  • Chip Shirley

    August 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Please let Tom Steyer in the debate! Trump paints us as socialist anti-Semites and Tom is a self-made billionaire whose father is Jewish and was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials!
    Steyer is exactly what we need!

  • James Donelon

    August 25, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    The rules were set before any candidates launched. They are not set to favour any candidate or hurt any candidate. If you can’t make the cut, don’t cry about the rules. Tom can’t buy his way to the nomination.

  • R.Earls

    August 25, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    We need Tom Steyer. The people deserve to hear him in the debate.

  • Joe Pemberton

    August 25, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Corporations have bought their way out of paying taxes while working people pay more than their fair share. It is certainly acceptable for Tom Steyer to buy advertising in order to fight this corruption for us and to reduce our tax burden by making the cheaters pay. We need this brilliant outsider in that debate.

Comments are closed.


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