Tom Steyer's mega-millions debate game failures


Tom Steyer

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has spent more than $ 230 million since 2014 on his own efforts to influence politics and elections, and announced that he will contribute at least $ 100 million to his campaign. . | Puce Somodevilla / Getty Images

Tom Steyer has just lost a $ 16 million bet.

The billionaire hedge fund democrat retired late in the presidential campaign with a clear plan: to use his mega-wealth to participate in the party's televised debates, then use this platform and his unelected alien character to launch a challenge to leaders. Steyer has spent millions of dollars on television ads to increase his polls in early caucuses and major states, as well as for digital ads to meet donor requirements set by the Democratic National Committee.

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But after Wednesday's deadline, Steyer had only one poll to cast on the four-per-cent selections he needed to go on stage, leaving him out of the September debate. It could still be the subject of October with another poll, but its failure of the fast-track procedure to enter the next debate is a sign that Steyer's young campaign is not moving as she hoped.

It's the latest example of Steyer who spent tens of millions of dollars on an ambitious cause – including making climate change the main issue of the 2014 election, indicting President Donald Trump, and now in itself, his latest offer for launching presidential debates – and short. Steyer has spent more than 230 million US dollars since 2014 for his own efforts to influence politics and elections, and said he would devote at least $ 100 million to his campaign for the presidency . This will give him a considerable advantage over other low-voter election campaigns – but, as Steyer has learned, money can only do a lot.

"Tom Steyer is the only one who can spend enough to get name recognition and support from the first states" with paid media, said Patrick Murray, director of the Polling Institute in Monmouth, who conducted surveys allowing qualified candidates for DNC debates this year. "You can not turn on a television in those first states without seeing an advertisement from Tom Steyer."

But while Steyer covered the airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire, he failed to convince voters, said Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

"He did not participate in the debate because his message is wrong and with $ 20 million he could have done it," Sheinkopf said. "This is not a good advertisement: it's well cut, it's nice to look at, but it's not evocative."

Steyer's campaign said Wednesday in a statement: "It is clear from public polls that Tom would easily have reached the 2% threshold and would have been debated if he had had a qualified advance poll in recent weeks", but that "We understand the rules established by the DNC and respect the process." But Steyer also criticizes the DNC umpires in a new series of Facebook ads – which has allowed him to surpass the $ 4 million spend on the platform since launching his campaign on July 9th.

"In Iowa, there has been only one qualifying poll for the DNC debates for almost a month," Steyer said in an announcement posted this week on Facebook in Iowa, where he spent 3 , $ 2 million on the air in July and August increase its position in polling stations in the state to 2 percent or more, which meets the debate requirement of the DNC. "Your voice counts, but it's not heard – voters like you in Iowa should have their say before Wednesday's deadline."

In both DNC – approved Iowa polls and conducted since Steyer 's entry in the race, Steyer got 2% and 3% respectively – enough to qualify for the debate' s qualifying, but away from it. establish as a major factor in caucuses after his televised blitz.

"I do not want to disrespect Mr. Steyer, but I'm proud of Iowa, it's not for sale," said Jerry Crawford, lawyer and Democratic agent in Iowa. . "Massive paid media strategies have rarely been decisive in a winning campaign in which organization and interpersonal contacts mean much more; that's why the Iowa caucuses were created in 1972. "

Unlike other candidates, Steyer will never be forced to withdraw from the presidential race because he lacks resources. But he did not have as much time to introduce himself to the voters in this election, and the debates are the biggest platform for which he can be heard in the last months of 2019, before the vote does not start early next year.

Since the beginning of the race in early July, the Steyer campaign has begun to advance the debate: despite an estimated net worth of $ 1.6 billion, Steyer's ads on Facebook have asked donors to exchange small amounts – "Can you contribute even a dollar? one – to help it meet the minimum requirement of 130,000 unique donors, threshold crossed in August.

And in four key states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, Steyer has poured money into advertising to meet the DNC's survey requirements.

But if his fledgling campaign expected a series of early-state ballots to propel him to the debate stage, that did not happen. Since entering the race, there have been seven qualifying polls among the top states, and he has scored 2% or more in three of them. But his relative national weakness – he failed to win 2% in any of the eight national polls in which he was included – has reduced his chances of success.

Although the qualifying polls conducted since Steyer's launch were almost equally divided between the national polls and the first polls, Steyer's failure in his campaign asked the DNC to "enlarge [its] survey criteria to include more eligible surveys "at the state level. But the DNC has not moved.

Ten candidates will participate in the debate on 12 September. Five of them display an average single-digit vote: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (3%), Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota (3%), and entrepreneur Andrew. Yang (3%), former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro (3%) and former Texas representative, Beto O Rourke (3%). Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard, another candidate who narrowly missed the cut, questioned the rules of the DNC debate in a memo this week urging the DNC to revise its rules.

Steyer's ubiquitous television commercials are usually dressed in his standard uniform – jeans and a button-down shirt, without a tie, and address directly to the camera. In an advertisement aired in Iowa this month, Steyer attacks Trump's "racist rhetoric" and attacks Congress for "going on vacation for six weeks" while the country is "in crisis ".

"Business as usual does not work for the American people," says Steyer in advertising.

It's a standard political message at this point, said Democratic Media Consultant Ian Russell, at a time in the race when time is running out to qualify for the debates and where candidates have to take risks to stand out.

But Steyer has had significant moments of success in taking advantage of the energy of the Democratic electorate in the past, he added, such as his organization Need to Impeach, which draws up a list of e-mail of more than 8 million people focused on the removal of Trump.

"Sometimes the dog just does not like his food. I do not think Steyer is at this point. I just do not think he took a lot of risk or shot a lot to defend his cause, "Russell said. "Some in the evening will dance on his grave, but I think it's premature to count it."

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