Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest research finds that healthcare (14%) is currently the issue most likely to determine how Britons would vote in a General Election, were one to be held in the near future. This result mirrors findings from February, when healthcare (20%) was also the issue respondents said would most determine how they would vote. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Britons lives is likely a major explanatory driver of these findings. At the same time, the ongoing success of the UK’s vaccination rollout may have somewhat reduced respondents’ sense of threat with regards to coronavirus.
Whilst healthcare remains the most determinative issue for voters overall, an only slightly lower proportion of respondents (12%) say the economy is the issue which would most determine how they would vote. Other determinative issues are immigration (9%), the environment (9%), and Britain leaving the EU (9%). Overall, the least determinative issues to voters currently are foreign policy (1%), transport (1%), taxation (2%), education (4%), pensions (4%), and policing/crime (4%). In addition, a notable 10% say they don’t know which issue would most determine how they would vote in a General Election.
Overall, there is a slight gender disparity in which issue would most determine how men and women would vote at a General Election in the near future. Whilst 17% of women say healthcare would be the most determinative issue for them at a General Election, just 12% of men think the same. This finding may be related to the fact that women took on further responsibilities throughout the pandemic to provide care for others at a higher rate than men, potentially making the issue of healthcare more salient to female voters. In contrast, whilst 17% of men say the economy would most determine how they would vote, just 7% of women say the same.
When it comes to the issues that would most determine how Britons would vote in a General Election, we not only observe differences between men and women but also between respondents of different political orientations. 2019 Conservative voters, for instance, differ from the public at large in that a plurality (19%) say the economy is the issue that would most determine how they would vote, while healthcare comes in second at 14%. To the extent that our research has recently found that a large majority of 2019 Conservative voters approve of the Conservative Party’s position and performance on the economy (65%), the coronavirus pandemic (65%), and the NHS (61%), it thus appears the Conservative Party is currently delivering on the issues that matter most to its voters.
By contrast, a plurality (19%) of 2019 Labour voters say the issue of healthcare would most determine how they would vote, whilst only 9% cite the economy as the most determinative issue. 12% of 2019 Labour voters say the environment would be the issue which would most determine how they would vote at a General Election in the near future, making this issue the second most frequently cited one among this demographic group.
In contrast to 2019 Labour voters, just 7% of 2019 Conservative voters say the environment would be the most determinative issue for them. Immigration, on the other hand, is more of a salient issue for those who voted Conservative in 2019: 12% of this demographic cite immigration as the most determinative issue, compared to just 4% of 2019 Labour voters.
Overall, these results show that healthcare and the economy remain the issues most likely to determine how Britons would vote at a General Election, though the exact prioritisation between the two differs according to respondents’ gender and political orientation. In addition, issues such as the environment and immigration are also considered important by 2019 Labour and Conservative voters, respectively.. Whilst there is no General Election on the horizon just yet, these results do give some level of indication as to what issues are most important to voters and what might lead to a win for either party when the time comes.