Fuzzy math: Democrats spend big to draw small-dollar donors

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks to a reporter after a mental health roundtable discussion, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidates desperate to qualify for the next debate are spending millions on Facebook to attract new donors, sometimes spending far more than they collect in contributions.

They fear not being in the debate could doom their campaigns and they face a Wednesday deadline to hit 2% in four approved public opinion polls while notching 130,000 donors.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is pumping millions into online and TV advertising. Billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer has spent $3.8 million on Facebook ads.

The debate next month is in Houston.

Failing to qualifying would deny a vital platform to make their argument and be viewed as a viable contender at the "big kids" table. But many still hope to reach the requirements before the following debate in October.

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