Let's put the Obama activist and donor numbers in perspective - 650,000 donors is a lot, but John Kerry had around 2 million donors, and George Bush had roughly as many. Richard Viguerie and Roger Craver, direct mail gurus, have frequently noted that there are roughly 10 million political direct mail donors in this country total, though that number might have changed. What is novel about the Obama campaign is not the number of donors but the involvement of those people in his campaign. They are working in caucuses and volunteering, not just giving. This has been a strategy since the beginning.
What is remarkable about the last 48 hours is the haul by the Hillary Clinton campaign of around $7 million from 45,000 online donors or so. These are suburban women who probably haven't been part of the culture of online giving, and who for some reason have started to contribute. The Clinton campaign has organized its online activities around streaming media, the Hillary chats and videos, the Sopranos video, and the Celine Dionne song contest. Internally, the media heavies are probably in charge. What happened now, though, is that the Clinton campaign just tapped out of its McAuliffe big dollar donors, and Clinton was forced to rely on her real base - the women who love her. And unwittingly, with her showing in the Super Tuesday states and her $5 million donation to her own campaign, she asked them for support in a way she never had. And they responded.
It's remarkable, because it is converting voters and supporters into activists and donors, only it's probably not the creative class anymore. Clinton, like Dean, became an underdog, a real underdog, with more public support than Village support, and her public directly responded over the internet to close this gap.
In other words, the Obama campaign has had a strategy of cultivating online donors and activists, they know how to do it, and they are very good at it. The Clinton campaign has not done any of this particularly well because it hasn't been their strategy. And somehow, they are at rough parity over the last 48 hours. There is probably something of an earthquake inside the Clinton campaign when these tired Clinton operatives, cynical for 20 years, actually feel, really feel, her supporters reach out and lift them up for the first time.