Who is Tom Steyer?
Current job: Billionaire environmental activist and political megadonor.
Family: Steyer is married to Kathryn Taylor; together they have four grown children.
Hometown: New York City; he lives in San Francisco.
Political party: Democratic.
Previous jobs: Former hedge-fund investor and director of Farallon Capital.
Who is Steyer’s direct competition for the nomination?
Based on a recurring series of national surveys we conduct, we can figure out who the other candidates competing in Steyer’s lane are, and who the broader opponents are within the party.
Despite interviewing almost 3,500 respondents over the eight polls, we have managed to find only about 130 people who would be satisfied with Steyer as the nominee. We are unable to draw sensible statistical conclusions from a sample size so paltry.
Generally, a respondent who liked Steyer liked 8.6 other candidates, on average, and half of his supporters liked over 10 other candidates. This is strong evidence to conclude that, generally, the Democrats who like Steyer are satisfied with any nominee who has a pulse.
Insider has been conducting a recurring poll through SurveyMonkey Audience on a national sample to find out how different candidates’ constituencies overlap. We ask people whether they are familiar with a candidate, whether they would be satisfied or unsatisfied with that candidate as the nominee, and sometimes we also ask whether they think that person would win or lose in a general election against President Donald Trump.
What are Steyer’s policy positions?
- On healthcare:
On climate change:
- Steyer is pledging to declare climate change a national emergency on his first day in office, which differs from other candidates’ plans as it relies on the emergency powers of the presidency.
- “On day one, we’d do a bunch of things including reentering [the Paris climate accords], freeze and reverse the Trump rulemaking, we’d establish a cabinet level position, put a climate lens on all purchasing … and if Congress couldn’t pass a Green New Deal, [we] would set clean energy standards,” Steyer said of his climate plan. The campaign has estimated it would cost $US2.3 trillion.
- The billionaire environmental activist is also calling for stronger international cooperation to combat climate change.
- Steyer founded an environmentally focused political-action committee in 2013 that became NextGen America, which spent $US96 million during the 2016 election cycle to support climate-friendly candidates, mostly Democrats.
- At the fifth Democratic debate in November, Steyer defended his environmental record against criticisms from former Vice President Joe Biden, who called out Steyer for investing in coal and fossil fuels during his career in finance.
- “I’ve spent a decade fighting and beating oil companies, stopping pipelines, stopping fossil fuel plants, and ensuring clean energy,” Steyer said, adding he would make climate his No. 1 priority and declare a national emergency on the climate crisis in office.
On campaign finance:
- Steyer wants to overturn the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision to reduce the influence of money in politics.
- In a news release announcing his candidacy, Steyer said, “The only way for us to solve the urgent problems facing our country is to loosen the stranglehold that corporations have over our politicians and return political power to the American people.”
- The billionaire liberal activist would also restructure the Federal Election Commission, characterising it in his plan as “plagued by internal dysfunction” and “broken.”
- At the fifth Democratic debate in November, Steyer also called for mandatory term limits on members of Congress.
- The Democratic megadonor wants to protect a woman’s right to abortion, vowing in 2017 that his NextGen group wouldn’t “work for a single candidate who is not pro-choice.”
- Steyer is supportive of pushing for more gun-control laws, having called on young voters after the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Florida to push “for gun reform now” in a Facebook video.
On criminal-justice reform:
- Steyer has criticised the cost of bail as being needlessly high for people of colour. He said in a tweet: “Bail in this country is injustice perpetuated by greed and motivated by oppression. Black, brown, and poor people are being held because they do not have the resources to be free. There is no justice in our justice system.”
- On foreign policy:
- The California billionaire is in favour of raising taxes on the wealthy, though it is unclear to what extent.
- Steyer voiced his support for Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ plan to tax the corporations and the wealthy during the fourth Democratic primary debate in October, saying, “There have been 40 years where corporations have bought this government, and those 40 years have meant a 40-year attack on the rights of working people and, specifically the rights of organised labour.”
- Steyer also said he would “undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and for corporations.”
- Back in 2017, Steyer called on Trump to raise his taxes during the Republican push to pass the tax law.
- “We need to make sure that we’re not in a society that is unbalanced and unfair and where the richest Americans are taking advantage of everybody else,” Steyer said at the time.
What are Steyer’s political successes?
- Steyer lobbied then-President Barack Obama to not approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing it’d be too harmful to the environment. Obama shot down the project, but it’s been revived under Trump.
- He spent over $US100 million to support Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, helping the party recapture the House. Steyer has also been forcefully advocating for Trump’s impeachment, further thrusting the debate onto the national stage.
How much money has Steyer raised?
According to Steyer’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing, 95% of his third-quarter donations were self-funded. He donated $US47.6 million to his own campaign and raised about $US2 million in external donations.
Could Steyer beat Trump?
Only 12% of Democrats aware of Steyer think he’d beat Trump in the general election, which is a fraction of the 30% who say as much for a typical Democrat.
Where does stand on impeaching Trump?
Steyer was one of the earliest proponents of impeachment and founded Need To Impeach in 2017, nine months after Trump took office.
During the fourth Democratic primary debate, on October 15, Steyer told the audience, “I want to remind everybody that every candidate here is more decent, more coherent, and more patriotic than the criminal in the White House.”
He also addressed his decision to start the Need To Impeach movement, saying, “I knew there was something wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that we did have the most corrupt president in the country, and the voice and will of the American people would drag Washington to see it as a matter of right and wrong, not of political expediency.”
On October 13, Steyer said at the Ohio Democratic Party’s 2019 State Dinner that a Republican victory in the 2020 election could be “the end of the world.”
“We are in the fight of our lives,” Steyer said. “Everything is on the table in 2020. They think so too, because they think if they lose in 2020, the rules are going to be fair and they’re never going to win again. And they’re right. If we win in 2020, they’re done forever. But it’s scary for us, too, because if they win, literally it could be the end of the world.”
How do Democratic voters feel about Steyer’s qualifications?
Insider has conducted polling about how voters feel about candidate attributes or qualifications. We asked respondents about a list of possible qualifications and if they made them more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for president.
For example, among respondents who said they’d vote in the Democratic primary, 19% said a candidate being a college professor made them likelier to support them, while 4% said it made them less likely to, for a +15% net favorability. We can then see how different candidates’ résumés stack up compared to those preferences.
Attributes perceived as most valuable include his past as an activist (+28%) and Ivy League education (+7%).
Attributes considered to be a liability based on the preferences of self-reported Democratic voters include his time as a foundation owner (-4%), a business owner (-11%), his little time in government (-22%), and that he grew up rich (-42%).
Recently, Steyer’s campaign was involved in two scandals when his South Carolina state director resigned in connection with the stealing of Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign data and a senior Steyer aide in Iowa said he offered campaign donations to local politicians in exchange for endorsements.
Read more of our stories on Tom Steyer:
- Tom Steyer’s aides got caught stealing Kamala Harris’ campaign data and trying to buy political endorsements
- From Rockefeller, to George Washington, to Donald Trump, here are 11 of the richest US presidential candidates in history
- The top 25 Americans who funded politics in 2018
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