04/04/2007 01:18 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Millions: Less About the Money than the Message

In two months, Barack Obama has been able to accomplish something that Hillary Clinton was unable to do after years of painstakingly constructing a national campaign structure and team: raise money from 100,000 individual donors. In fact, that's roughly twice as many donors than Senator Clinton was able to motivate.

More meaningful than Obama's $25 million, which comes flirtingly close to Clinton's $26 million, is the evident ability of his campaign to electrify voters and bring them into the process. Half of his individual donors clicked and contributed online, more than twice as many web supporters as Clinton was able to round up.

How did the Clinton campaign respond? CNN reports that "A top Clinton fundraiser took a jab at the rival. Obama 'doesn't have the sustainability and doesn't have the ability to raise what the Clintons are able to raise,' said John Catsimatidis. 'Regardless of what he reports, at the end of the day, the Clintons get the nomination.'"

Putting aside the curious use the plural - are we back to "two for the price of one?" - what Catsimatidis (who, by the way, is a NYC supermarket millionaire who is making noises about running for mayor as a Republican) doesn't get is that the very nature of Barack's online success gives his campaign a "sustainability" and scalability that Clinton lacks.

Every one of those 100,000 contributors is a passionate, fired up mini-evangelist for the Obama campaign who can email friends, attract new supporters, create networks, and create the "virality" that online marketers lust for but seldom achieve.

Unlike the Dean campaign, and the "Deaniacs" who first demonstrated the political power of the Internet in 2000, Obama's campaign is showing an unprecedented dual level of strength. He is able to raise money from traditional wealthy sources - as his $25 million tally demonstrates - and simultaneously tap into a ravenous national hunger for a candidate who is capable of creating a sense of national purpose. He is galvanizing millions who had given up the hope of finding a politician who wasn't manufactured in the same candidate factory.
This ability to reach in both directions isn't hypocrisy. Obama isn't changing his message, it's that his message is changing people. And because that's something Senator Clinton simply cannot do, she simply cannot win.