Billionaire left-wing donor Tom Steyer is reportedly responsible for over 90% of television ad spending in South Carolina and Nevada — the two states where his poll numbers reached the threshold qualifying him for the Democrat debate in Iowa this week.
Steyer qualified for Tuesday’s debate in Des Moines last Thursday on the strength of surprisingly strong polls in South Carolina (15%, second place) and Nevada (12%, third place). He was the sixth candidate to qualify — and the last, leaving an all-white stage — a fact that drew criticism from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who slammed the debate’s “lack of diversity.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Steyer about the figures during Sunday morning’s broadcast of State of the Union:
The reason people can hear your message, though, of course, is because of the TV ads and the millions of dollars you have spent. Let’s talk about the two states that you polled well in, that got you on the debate stage, South Carolina and Nevada. You and your campaign — you make up the overwhelming of the television ad spending in those states. 91% of television ad spending in South Carolina is from you. 97% of television ad spending in Nevada is from you. Do you not think that it is your millions and the flood of advertising in those states that is why you did well in the polls and are now on the debate stage?
Steyer responded by citing a Washington Post article published Saturday that documents his campaign’s efforts on the ground in both states. The article noted that fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg is also spending money on ads in those states but is lagging in the polls there. (Bloomberg entered the race too late to compete in the early primary states.)
Steyer is at 2.2% nationwide, in ninth place overall, according to the latest RealClearPolitics poll average.
The debate will air on CNN on Tuesday, January 14, at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.