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Steyer Scores Just One Vote in Poll: Campaign Update

Ryan Teague Beckwith

(Bloomberg) -- Talk about retail politics.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer got just a single vote for his presidential bid in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday.

That’s not much of a return on his investment after spending millions on TV and digital advertising in the seven weeks he’s been in the Democratic race.

Steyer had the support of 0.24% of the 424 registered voters who said they plan to vote in the Democratic nominating contests, according to the nationwide poll of registered voters conducted Aug. 20-25.

(To be fair, the sample has a margin of error of 4.96 percentage points.)

Still, even with his single statement of support, Steyer did as well as or better than some other candidates at the back of the pack.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, author Marianne Williamson and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard also had the support of one or two voters, while New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were among those without a single backer.

Biden Vows to Wall Off Relatives’ Businesses (4:45 p.m.)

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday there would be “an absolute wall” between his administration and the business interests of his family members after allegations that his son and his brother tried to use their political connections to benefit financially.

“I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses, period,” Biden said after a town hall in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “What I will do is the same thing we did in our administration, there will be an absolute wall between personal and private and the government. There wasn’t any hint of scandal at all when we were there and I’ll impose the same kind of strict, strict rules.”

The business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter, and the Democratic front-runner’s brother, James, have come under scrutiny in recent months. On Friday, a lawsuit against James Biden alleged that he offered the former vice president’s assistance in promoting health care ventures. The lawsuit, filed in Tennessee by health care executives, alleges James Biden and his partners fraudulently offered assistance before bankrupting their companies.

There is no evidence that Joe Biden was involved in either his son or his brother’s business dealings.

“These unsubstantiated charges are pure fiction,” David Fuscus, a spokesman for James Biden, said in a statement. -- Tyler Pager

Kasich Says He Doesn’t See Path to Beat Trump (2:00 p.m.)

For John Kasich, the third time won’t be the charm.

The former Ohio governor, who sought the presidency in 2000 and 2016, said Wednesday that he won’t seek to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020.

“I look at this and I don’t see the path right now,” he said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” “That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a path down the road, but right now I don’t see it.”

Kasich, a prominent Trump critic and CNN commentator, said on Bloomberg TV in December that “all options are on the table” for 2020.

The only Republicans to announce a primary challenge so far are former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said this month that he’s considering a bid. -- Emma Kinery

Monmouth Says Its Poll Showing Tied Race Is Outlier (12:45 p.m.)

Remember that poll Monday showing Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren running neck-and-neck? Well, never mind.

Monmouth University’s Patrick Murray acknowledged Wednesday that his poll was an outlier, after other surveys didn’t show a similar fundamental shake-up in the presidential race.

Two polls released Wednesday, from Quinnipiac University and USA Today/Suffolk University, had Biden up by 18 points and 13 points, respectively.

Murray explained the problem this way: Those margin-of-error numbers attached to each poll — in this case, 5.7 percentage points — are only 95% accurate. That means one poll in 20 will be outside of its margin of error.

Or in other words, an outlier.

“It occurs very infrequently, but every pollster who has been in this business a while recognizes that outliers happen,” he said. His advice: Always look at more than one poll before jumping to any conclusions. -- Gregory Korte

Poll Shows All Five Top Democrats Beating Trump (8:30 a.m.)

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden has slightly expanded his lead over President Donald Trump in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which also for the first time in Trump’s presidency registered more voters saying the U.S. economy is getting worse rather than better.

Biden topped Trump by 16 percentage points -- 54 to 38% -- in the survey, conducted Aug. 21-26. That’s up slightly from 53-40% in June.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, California Senator Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg also led Trump in hypothetical match ups.

On the economy, 37% of voters said conditions were worsening, with just 31% saying the situation is getting better -- a troubling sign for Trump, who has made taking credit for a strong economy a centerpiece of his campaign messaging.

The poll appears unlikely to help any other Democratic candidates qualify for the next round of candidates debates in Houston in September. Wednesday is the deadline to meet the debate criteria of having 130,000 donors and polling at least 2% in four qualifying polls.

About half of the current field is yet to qualify, even accounting for the three recent dropouts: John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee and Seth Moulton. If one more candidate hits the threshold, the event will be held over two nights, with slots randomly assigned. Billionaire investor Tom Steyer looks to have the best chance to get in but failed to top 1% in this latest poll.

For the poll, conducted from Aug. 21-26, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,422 self-identified registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The survey of 648 Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points. -- Kathleen Hunter

COMING UP

Climate change takes center stage on Sept. 4, even if the Democratic National Committee rejected pleas from climate activists for a party-sponsored debate solely on that subject. CNN hosts a town hall on the issue just after Labor Day.

--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter, Gregory Korte, Emma Kinery and Tyler Pager.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Teague Beckwith in New York at rbeckwith3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley

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