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Data Show Tom Steyer Is Attempting To Buy His Way Onto Democratic Debate Stage

Billionaire Tom Styer is pulling out all the stops to earn a spot on the next Democratic debate, including spending more cash on social media than every other presidential candidate combined.

Steyer spent $1.2 million on Facebook ads between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, which is more than South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts combined, according to Facebook’s ad archive report.

The wealthy environmentalist is a late-comer to the presidential campaign, but he’s using loads of cash to make up for his tardiness. Steyer has so far spent more than any other Democratic candidate on media overall with more than $10 million, data from Advertising Analytics shows. Much of his spending is directed toward getting on the debate stage.

Candidates must amass the support of 130,000 donors and register at least 2 percent support in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee to qualify for the third and fourth presidential debates. The first two debates required candidates collect contributions from 65,000 unique donors or notch at least 1 percent in three polls.

Steyer has so far registered at least 2 percent in three approved polls, though it’s unclear whether his campaign is close to meeting the donor benchmark. His campaign did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about whether the billionaire has collected the required number of donors.

Reports suggest money is simply not as important in today’s political atmosphere as is gaining massive amounts of earned media. 

President Donald Trump, for instance, earned $4.96 billion in free earned media in the year leading up to the 2016 election, according to data from tracking firm Mediaquant. The president received $5.6 billion throughout his campaign, more than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sanders, combined. Trump’s campaign team is doubling down on Facebook and other social media spending as the president prepares for his reelection bid.

The president is spending roughly 44 percent of its Facebook ad budget on the baby boomer generation, Axios reported in April. Trump’s opponents are only spending 27 percent of their budgets on older generations, the report notes, citing data from Bully Pulpit Interactive. The president’s ad blitz is mostly centered around discussing immigration.

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