Poll aggregator Britain Elects’ new poll with D-CYFOR indicates that over the winter, which has contained increased coverage about the NHS due to the winter crisis, there has been a significant shift in what voters’ see as the biggest issues facing the country.
The previous Britain Elects/D-CYFOR poll (from November) put the NHS on 28%, but the share of those thinking it is the most important issue facing the country has jumped to 40% (this January).
Back in November, the issue seen by most to be the most important issue facing the country was Brexit, with 37% of poll respondents picking that. In January, this has fallen to 26%.
A further 9% picked immigration in both months, while 6% picked the economy in November (8% in January) and 8% picked terrorism in each poll.
With the NHS dominating the news, with headlines such as “NHS hospitals still in grip of winter crisis, figures show” and “NHS crisis: Nine in 10 ambulance services in England under 'severe pressure'”, it is hardly a surprise that the NHS is now seen as a more important priority. However, the scale of the jump is staggering, suggesting that this issue has really cut through to the public.
Furthermore, Ben Walker of Britain Elects, wrote in the Times that as Labour and Jeremy Corbyn consistently poll better on their handling of the NHS than the Conservatives and Theresa May, this sharp rise in the share of voters seeing the NHS as the most important issue facing the UK could help out the reds.
That all said, once winter – and its NHS crisis stories – come to an end, and as Brexit negotiations enter their final stages, it is likely that the importance of the two issues will begin to converge and revert back to how they were. The question then is: how will the perceived importance of these issues impact how people vote at the ballot box?