Through June 30, the close of the most recent campaign reporting period, more than 552,000 people had contributed to Mr. Obama’s re-election effort, according to campaign officials. Half of them were new donors, and nearly all of them gave contributions of less than $250.
But those figures obscured another statistic: a vast majority of Mr. Obama’s past donors, who number close to four million, have not yet given him any money at all [emphasis added].Okay, there's a big and very obvious problem with this comparison. The half-million people who have donated to Obama's 2012 campaign so far (that is, through June of 2011) are being compared with those who donated through the entirety of the 2008 campaign season. The bulk of donors don't get involved until much closer to the primaries and general election. The appropriate comparison point would be those who donated through June of 2007. According to the FEC, there were just over 77,000 donations to Obama in the first half of 2007, roughly a third of which were under $250.
So, just to review, Obama has received more than seven times as many donations at this point in the 2012 cycle than he did by this point in the 2008 cycle. What's more, the share of his donations coming from small (under $250) contributions is now greater than it was four years ago.
Now, of course, there are plenty of reasons why these two elections cycles don't make for a great comparison. Obama is the president now, and he was only a modestly-famous freshman senator four years ago. Conversely, he was going into a hotly contested primary back then and appears to be unopposed for the nomination today. That said, there is no quantitative basis for Confessore's assertions.
That's not to say that there are no 2008 Obama supporters who are disappointed with his presidency -- I'm sure there are plenty! And I haven't collected the data that would tell us the extent to which those supporters are contributing today. But to say that the half-million who have given to Obama this year compare unfavorably to the 4 million who gave to him previously is really grossly misleading.