The new DNC rules were supposed to open up the process. And they have.
To, Marianne "Sickness is an Illusion" Williamson, Andrew "Give Everyone $1,000" Yang, and Tom Steyer.
Steyer, who has no real base, is just outright buying a spot.
The Steyer campaign has spent more than $7 million on TV and digital ads during its first month, according to data provided by social media companies and an analysis of Federal Communications Commission filings available in the OpenSecrets political ad database.
The two DNC metrics are poll numbers and donor numbers. Steyer bought enough name recognition to secure the donor numbers.
Of the three polls in which Tom Steyer has achieved at least 2 percent, two were conducted in Iowa while one was conducted in South Carolina. He has yet to hit 2 percent in any national polls.
To attract new donors, Steyer’s digital ads target voters across the country and ask for contributions of just $1. During its first month, the campaign spent about $3.5 million on digital ads: $2.6 million on Facebook, nearly $700,000 on Google and more than $200,000 on Twitter.
Steyer is spending far more than he's likely to get to hit that magic 130,000 number. And gaming the system.
Another one of Steyer's advantages is the email list developed by Need to Impeach, which counts more than 8 million members and has been rented by the presidential campaign. The list is a jumping-off point for Steyer's campaign to build a trove of supporters willing to chip in for the debate — or later on, to vote for the candidate.
Large email lists are valuable in politics. Steyer's Need to Impeach list "may be more of an asset to him than being a self-funder," said Taryn Rosenkranz, founder of the firm New Blue Interactive.
"Building a list takes time. Coming into the presidential debate, it's advantageous for him to come in with a list," Rosenkranz said.
Through the groups, Steyer also spent millions of dollars airing television ads featuring himself and staging town hall events where he was the star and moderator — both opportunities for him to build name id in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, has been pouring money into TV ads calling for the President's impeachment. Need to Impeach has spent about $75 million to date to "raise the voices of people across the country."
Prior to Steyer’s official announcement of his candidacy in July, Need to Impeach spent more than $4.4 million on ads promoting the “Tom Steyer” Facebook page, which is now used by his campaign. After Steyer threw his hat in the ring, ads on the page switched from being paid for by Need to Impeach or his personal funds to being paid for by his 2020 campaign.
It's a very neat little trick. And the system has been thoroughly gamed.
The gaming is pointless as Steyer can buy a few percent, but not enough to take the Dem nomination, let alone the national one. But it locks out more credible candidates which is bad news for the Democrats, but good news for the people on Steyer's payroll, and for President Trump.