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Tom Steyer. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Six candidates have qualified for the seventh Democratic debate, scheduled for Jan. 14, newly including billionaire Tom Steyer as of Thursday.

What's new: Steyer qualified for the debate after an apparent spike in early state polls in South Carolina and Nevada. He tied alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren for third place in Nevada, with both candidates hitting 12%. In South Carolina, Steyer landed in second place at 15%, but widely trailed behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who led the poll at 36%.

The big picture: The Democratic National Committee raised the bar to qualify for its January debate, requiring candidates to have at least 5% in four qualifying polls or 7% in two early-state polls — as well as 225,000 unique donors.

  • The debate will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, at Drake University — co-hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register. It will air live on CNN at 9 p.m. ET.
  • CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillip will moderate, joined by the Des Moines Register's Brianne Pfannenstiel.

The candidates who have qualified:

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Elizabeth Warren
  3. Bernie Sanders
  4. Pete Buttigieg
  5. Amy Klobuchar
  6. Tom Steyer

Between the lines: Sen. Cory Booker and former candidate Julián Castro (who both failed to qualify for the December debate), have criticized the DNC for its decisions to increase the criteria necessary to make the debates.

  • Only seven of the 15 candidates still in the race qualified for the last debate.
  • On the December debate stage in Los Angeles, businessman Andrew Yang lamented that he was the only non-white person there. "Fewer than 5% of Americans donate to political campaigns. You know what you need to donate to political campaigns? Disposable income," he said.

Worth noting: The unique donor requirement means that Michael Bloomberg won't make it to the January debate stage even if he manages to hit the polling requirements, as he has chosen to entirely self-fund his campaign.

What's next: Candidates have through Friday to qualify.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

100+ corporate executives consider freezing donations over laws curbing voting access

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

More than 100 corporate executives and leaders gathered on a zoom call Saturday to discuss ways to combat controversial voting bills that would restrict voting access that are being considered across the country, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: American corporations flexed their advocacy muscles earlier this month when more than 100 companies signaled their opposition to Georgia's new voting law, inciting the wrath of GOP leaders, including former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

6 hours ago - World

Defense Sec. Austin stresses U.S. commitment to Israel's security amid growing Iran tensions

Issei Kato/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

Why it matters: Austin met his counterpart Benny Gantz and will meet later with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran and regional security issues.

"I was horrified": Leaders respond to footage of Black and Latino Army officer threatened at traffic stop

An Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after he said they drew their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December.

Why it matters: Footage of the incident has drawn widespread criticism from leaders and groups in the state. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out," to which a police officer responds “Yeah, you should be," in a video from a body-worn camera.

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