Economy leapfrogs immigration as number one issue for voters

Guy Bentley
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It's the economy stupid (Source: Getty)

The economy has become the number one issue at this year's General Election, polls show.

After two months of lagging behind immigration and health, voters think the state of Britain's economy is not just the top issue for the country but also for themselves and their families.

Polling guru Mike Smithson said the latest YouGov issue tracker was good news for the Tories' electoral strategy:

This suggests that the opening salvos of the campaign from Cameron and co are the ones hitting home, at least in this first phase.

Health, [Labour's] top issue is down at third in the top table and second in the first. It is, however, top issue for that key group of swing voters – the 2010 [Liberal Democrats].

The top table examines what people think is the most important issue for the country while the second is what people rate as the most important issue for themselves and their families.

The Conservatives' chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, has pushed the economy front and centre of the party's campaign. The Tories retain a significant lead over Labour on their handling of the economy.

A hat-trick of good economic news yesterday, combined with this morning's letter from senior businesspeople praising the government's record, will put the Prime Minister in a bullish mood on the eve of the seven-way TV election debate.

The economy remains a mixed bag, however, and the Tories may be more vulnerable than the headline numbers suggest. Economic optimism is improving, with 27 per cent saying they expect their finances to improve of over the next year, but only 11 per cent saying they were better off in March than in February.

The feel-good factor will be key for both sides and there will be furious battles to answer the so-called Reagan question of "are you better off than you were four years ago".

Cameron will hope the economy remains top of the agenda as Labour remains leaps and bounds ahead of the Conservatives when it comes to the NHS and other key public services.

Immigration is the second biggest issue for the electorate, which means good news for Nigel Farage and Ukip, who consistently rank as the most trusted party on the issue.

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