I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this election is “It’s Time” versus economic management.

Newspoll in The Australian today ranks nine issues. The top topic is health and Medicare, followed by water planning, education, the environment, the economy, welfare and social issues, leadership, national security and industrial relations.

Labor comes in ahead on health and Medicare, water planning, education, the environment, welfare and social issues and IR – although their lead there seems to be narrowing.

The Coalition is strongest on the economy and national security. Conventional wisdom says the Government should be miles ahead in the polls, with the economy ticking along the way it is.

It has a 24 point lead as the best party to handle the economy, according to Newspoll, but in the survey of voting intention taken at the same time, it lagged 12 points in two party preferred terms.

Morgan polling out last week found about a quarter of Australian electors – 23% – are concerned about Labor’s ability to manage economic issues if they win the election.

Newspoll’s gap on economic management – 24% – is the largest its found since October last year, when voters put the Coalition ahead 54 points to 22.

But does any of this matter?

It might be time to wheel out the Fred Daly Memorial Cliché, “When a swing’s on, it’s on”, and that other great cliché of Australian politics, beloved by politicians from all parties: “The only poll that matters is the poll on election day”.

It doesn’t ask about economic management. All it asks for is voting intention.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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