Billionaire Tom Steyer has qualified for next week’s Democratic presidential debate on the strength of an apparent polling surge in two early-nominating states.
Two Fox News polls released on Thursday evening, just one day ahead of the qualification deadline, show Steyer in double-digits, moving past some top-tier candidates on his way to making the debate stage.
In a new Fox News poll in Nevada, former Vice President Joe Biden leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 23 percent to 17 percent. Steyer is tied for third place with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), with both at 12 percent.
Former South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a distant fifth at 6 percent, followed by Andrew Yang’s 4 percent.
In a second new poll, in South Carolina, Biden is well ahead with 36 percent of the vote. But Steyer is in second place with 15 percent, jockeying with Sanders (14 percent) and Warren (10 percent).
No other candidate cracks double digits. Buttigieg is well back in fifth, at 4 percent, with no other candidate higher than 2 percent.
Steyer has inundated early-state markets with advertising since beginning his presidential bid in July. In six months he’s shoveled out $11.2 million in South Carolina on TV spots and lots of direct mail appeals. In Nevada, he’s put out $10.3 million in television and radio ads so far, and has an additional $270,000 booked. That’s well ahead of the second-highest spender in the state: Warren, who has $1.2 million aired or booked through February.