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Economy weighing on voters' minds, Vote Compass numbers confirm

There is one big topic on the minds of voters this election, and it’s the economy.

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TVNZ’s election survey tool has queried more than 82,000 New Zealanders. Source: 1 NEWS

The first round of data from TVNZ’s Vote Compass tool is out, and it’s revealed what voters are thinking about as they weigh up who’ll get their support at the election on October 17.

A total of 29% of participants listed the economy as the number one issue. That’s surged by around 11 points compared to the last Vote Compass survey prior to the election in 2017, likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In second place was the Government’s response to the crisis, with 17% saying that was the most important issue for them this election.

In third is healthcare, with 13% of voters labelling that as their biggest focus.

But there was a distinct difference in view between supporters of different parties.

While National voters (53%) and ACT voters (43%) were most likely to list the economy as the most important issue, in contrast only 12% of Labour and 8% of Green voters said it was the most pressing topic.

Politics lecturer Lara Greaves says the results should send a clear message to the parties.

"I don't see how people could necessarily separate the economy from Covid policy from health policy, so people are probably integrating those as key issues," she says.

"I think people know that there's a recession or a depression coming. People are bracing for that, so what they want is strong economic management."

The key issues for voters in 2020 are the economy, Covid-19 and health, according to TVNZ's Vote Compass. Source: 1 NEWS

Other election issues

There’s been a general decrease in the importance of other issues for voters, as the top three topics take up more attention. Housing has seen a particular fall - down from 17% in 2017 to 5% this year.

However, the environment is rated higher than in previous Vote Compass surveys, with 8% of voters listing it as their top concern.

The referendum issues, cannabis and assisted dying legalisation, also showed up higher than previously.

Ms Greaves thinks the change represents New Zealand's changing demographics.

"We're also seeing younger voters age into voting, so those School Strike for Climate kids, they're now starting to hit voting age."

To take part in Vote Compass, a survey tool which shows users how their views match up with party policies, go to tvnz.co.nz/votecompass

Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in New Zealand exclusively by TVNZ. The findings are based on 27,409 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from August 30, 2020 to September 2, 2020 who answered the open-text question: “What issue is most important to you in this election?”.  Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. However, the data is a non-random sample from the population and has been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample.