Upcoming poll gives Steyer shot at Democratic debate, push to two nights

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By Alex Seitz-Wald  with NBC News Politics
Image: US-POLITICS-DEMOCRATS-DNC
2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful US billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer speaks on-stage during the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco on Aug. 23, 2019.   -   Copyright  Josh Edelson AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON - Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer will have at least once more chance to qualify for the next Democratic presidential debate before the deadline, thanks to a Quinnipiac University poll expected to be released Wednesday morning.

Steyer is just one qualifying poll away from joining the 10 other candidates who have already qualified for the mid-September debate. If he makes it, organizers have said they'll spread the debate over two nights, like the June and July debates.

No other pollsters have announced intentions to release a poll before the Wednesday qualifying deadline, but it's possible others could come.

No other candidate is as close to qualifying as Steyer, who has been spending heavily on TV ads to boost his name recognition after entering the race late.

Those closest to qualifying behind him are Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, followed by author Marianne Williamson, and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Candidates who won't be making it onto the stage this time around include Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

To qualify for the ABC News-sponsored a debate in Houston, candidates need to show by Wednesday that they have four polls registering 2 percent or more support along with at least 130,000 individual donors to their campaigns, according to rules set by the Democratic National Committee.

If candidates miss their chance next month, they'll still have a chance to make the October debate, when they'll have more time to get hit both the polls and donors threshold, which will remain the same as they are now.

The 10 candidates who have qualified already are: Joe Biden; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.