I am bewildered that some people try to make the arguments that they do. The Campaign Finance Institute argues that, "[i]t turns out that Barack Obama’s donors may not have been quite as different as we had thought."
Ummm. Except that there were 3.1m of them. And that’s not a trivial difference. But it doesn’t stop there.
CFI notes that there was a significant difference in people who started out small and moved into a larger donor group:
Many of the repeat donors who started off small ended up in the $201-$999 middle range. Among Obama’s total pool of 403,000 disclosed donors on August 31, more than half (about 212,000) started off by giving undisclosed contributions of $200 or less. About 93,000 of these repeaters gave in cumulative amounts of no more than $400 for the full primary season. Another 106,000 repeaters ended up between $401 and $999. By comparison, Clinton and McCain each had about 100,000 donors in the entire $201-$999 middle range, and for them the number included both repeaters and one-time givers.
So what we found here is not only that there were more donors, but the Obama campaign did a better job of converting their one-time donors into repeated donors. Oh, and, by the way, they did a better job of turning thier interested observers (12 million on the mailing list) into donors (1/4 donated)
So it wasn’t just a difference in mass — although that’s significant enough — but in process.