A Newspoll earlier in the month suggested that the issue cycle may have started to turn, with the economy up and the environment down. Now a very differently structured poll from Roy Morgan Research finds the same pattern.
The Newspoll gives respondents a set list of issues, all of which can be rated as important. The Morgan poll asks respondents to say, without prompting, which problem they believe is the most important one facing Australia today. The answers are then coded by the pollster.
Morgan finds that the proportion of people nominating the economy has increased from 23% to 30% in the last six months, and more than doubled since 2005. The environment is down 5% to 25% in the last six months, but still massively above its 2006 low point of 8%.
The big losers as problems since 2005 are terrorism (down from 19% to a *) and since 2006 various issues that preoccupy the middle-class soft left, presumably reflecting the demise of the Howard government.
While health and education continue to rate strongly in Newspoll, health doesn’t rate at all in the Morgan survey and education is only on 2%. This is consistent with my view that though voters want better health and education services, they are not likely to be the top priority when economic hard times hit.