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Democratic debate appears set for 10 candidates after Tom Steyer fails to qualify in latest polls

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Image: Tom Steyer listens during a town hall event in Ankeny, Iowa, on Jan.
Tom Steyer listens during a town hall event in Ankeny, Iowa, on Jan. 9, 2019.   -  
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Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images file
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WASHINGTON — Billlioniare financier Tom Steyer, who has been under fire for trying to buy his way onto the Democratic presidential debate stage, appears to have failed to make it.

Two new polls released Wednesday morning, hours before the midnight deadline to qualify, didn't give Steyer or any other struggling candidate what they need to qualify.

The development likely keeps the total number of qualified candidates at 10 and means the ABC-sponsored debate next month in Houston probably will be confined to just one night, since organizers said they would be forced to spread the debate over two nights if 11 candidates qualify.

New national polls from USA Today/Suffolk University and Quinnipiac University both found Steyer with less on than one percent support. He needed one more poll showing him at 2 percent or higher to qualify.

Steyer has spent nearly $12 million on TV and digital advertising since entering the race last month, according to Advertising Analytics data provided to NBC News, more than six times his closest Democratic competitor.

Candidates have until midnight Wednesday to show the Democratic National Committee they have met both thresholds to qualify: Earning donations from 130,000 people and at least four polls showing them at 2 percent or more.

While it's still possible a new poll could come out before that deadline, no pollster has announced intentions to do so yet.

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.

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