It's NY primary day: Who's really engaging voters?

Infighting makes for great headlines. Case in point, so much of the media coverage this election cycle has been focused on Donald Trump and the division he's inspired in the Republican party.

But as New Yorkers go to the polls Tuesday, in one of the most hotly contested primaries, it's the Democrats who have been getting headlines and engaging with voters. A fiery debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard last week didn't hurt. The Republicans meanwhile haven't held a debate at all since the beginning of March.

Since primary season began in February, it's the Democratic race that's gets more attention.

It's NY primary day: Who's really engaging voters?- Top Financial

Political campaigns — and their need for media attention — are like a true version of that myth about sharks: They need to keep moving to survive. If they don't, they drown. Stay still and die.

As far as meaningful engagement goes, the Republicans might have hit a stalemate.

Maybe the public has just become bored of the show and they're changing the channel. Or maybe the electorate is carved up and everyone knows who they're voting for, period. Or more simply, most people are expecting a brokered convention this summer that will sort everything out, making the next three months seem less important.

Just look at New York: Donald Trump has a commanding 30-point lead over John Kasich and Ted Cruz in recent polls. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is leading in her adopted state, but only by 13 points.

We know that across a number of metrics, the Democrats have started outpacing the Republicans in terms of voter engagement. For the study, Fluent used its Political Pulse surveys to gauge the public's involvement with the campaigns.

In email signups, which is one of the most important drivers of political action these days. Since mid-February, the rate at which Democrats are signing voters up has increased by 44 percent. The growth in Republican signups has dropped by 12 percent in that same time. People are still signing up for emails, but at a dwindling rate.

One reason for that is the shrinking field of GOP candidates. Young pols like Marco Rubio and those with robust campaign efforts like Jeb Bush — both of whom had strong email-marketing elements to their campaigns — have fallen out of the race.

Trump, on the other hand, relies on open platforms like Twitter and incessant news coverage to disseminate his message.

Social momentum

But Democrats have been beating the Republicans at social media engagement too, according to the data. Since mid-February, the Dems have outpaced the Republicans in attracting followers on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

It's likely that Bernie Sanders' strong showing in Iowa and subsequent victory in New Hampshire bolstered interest in the Democratic race. A growing haul of primary and caucus wins — including Minnesota, Colorado and Washington — have made Sanders' once long-shot campaign seem more plausible in recent weeks. (Though he still has the math of delegates against him.)

Interest in Sanders even appears in Google traffic. Searches for "Bernie Sanders" across the country beat out "Donald Trump" for a week in mid-February. That's something you almost never see.

But all this renewed interest also means more money.

The Democrats have also outpaced the Republicans in collecting. Since primary season began in February, the percentage of respondents who had given to a Democratic campaign exceeds 30 percent. Contributors to Republican campaigns meanwhile have been stagnant around 15 percent.

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