Results indicate the election will be a battle of income packages.
Results of a new survey show politicians depending on immigration or housing policies for votes may be barking up the wrong tree - the economy was far ahead of both as the biggest issue likely to impact on people's voting decisions.
In the latest Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS online survey of 1000 voters 25 per cent picked the economy when asked which of eight issues was most likely to affect their vote.
That was well ahead of the next issue - health - which was chosen by 16 per cent while housing came in third at 12 per cent.
The economy was the top pick for both genders and across employed, self-employed and unemployed voters although housing slightly edged out the economy among young, urban voters in their 20s.
Unsurprisingly, housing was more important to Aucklanders than other New Zealanders in the survey. It was the second most important issue in Auckland chosen by 18 per cent of Aucklanders compared to 9 per cent of those in the rest of the North Island.
A higher proportion of Aucklanders also selected immigration as a big issue than those living elsewhere. It was a big issue to 12 per cent of Auckland respondents compared to 9 per cent overall.
After the economy (25 per cent), health was second (16 per cent) followed by housing (12 per cent), poverty (10 per cent), immigration (9 per cent), the environment (8 per cent), education (8 per cent) and unemployment (3 per cent). Nine per cent said none of those issues were the biggest factor for them.
The results indicate the election will be a battle to win voters' back pockets and come down to whether voters prefer National or Labour's packages for incomes.
National's enticement to voters consists of tax cuts and boosts to Working for Families and the Accommodation Supplement. Labour has proposed cancelling those tax cuts and instead boosting public services such as health and education, giving Working for Families a much larger boost and introducing a new 'baby payment' for parents of every newborn child. The price of that is smaller surpluses and taking more debt in the short term.
Labour's campaign spokesman Phil Twyford said there was a clear choice between the two.
"There's a very clear choice between tax cuts that have a big dollop for the top 10 per cent of earners, compared to Labour focusing on helping low income people and spending money on big challenges like mental health, fixing the housing crisis, like better health services and education."
He said issues around housing, immigration and transport were top of Labour's campaign in Auckland and he was surprised housing was not higher on the list of issues as it had topped other surveys on issues important to voters.
National's campaign chair Steven Joyce was not surprised at the result.
"People are rightly always thinking about their security and opportunities for themselves and their families. In my experience a lot of campaigns come down to those sorts of questions."
He was not surprised immigration did not feature more highly, but said the higher result in Auckland reflected concern over the infrastructure problems Auckland had experienced.
"I think we are now getting some of those new investments open, like Waterview and so on, people can see we are seeing a good response. We've got to keep doing it."
In the survey, more men than women opted for the economy (30 per cent to 22 per cent) while women were more concerned about education (11 per cent compared to just 5 per cent of men).
The results seem to show voters are fairly happy with how things are going in education - only 8 per cent chose that as the biggest issue affecting their vote.
Age divide on housing
The survey also revealed a significant divide between younger and older voters on the issue of housing. More younger voters chose housing as their top issue than older voters.
In a separate survey question on house prices, 45 per cent believed the Government should do more to make house prices fall while 34 per cent said it had done enough to stop prices rising, or it should not be involved in the private housing market at all.
Only 11 per cent said it had done enough while 23 per cent said it should not be involved in the private housing market.
Young people and those on lower incomes were more likely to say the Government needed to do more to get house prices to drop than older wealthier people. That dropped off through older age brackets in which more people are likely already home owners.
National has come under attack for failing to do more to stem house price spikes in Auckland in particular, but Steven Joyce said it was obvious younger people would be more concerned because they were trying to enter the housing market.
"The good news is Auckland house prices in particular have been flat to falling for 10 months now and the sort of things causing house prices to go up are coming to the end of their run - we are getting more supply and mortgage interest rates starting to tick up a bit."
Only one quarter of those aged 18-29 believed the Government had done enough or should not be involved, compared to 43 per cent of those aged over 60.
There was also a predictable divide between urban and rural: The strongest support for the Government doing more was in the cities - 52 per cent of those in urban areas said it should do more compared to 42 per cent in rural areas.
• The survey of 1000 was conducted from July 19-26 and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent. It is an online survey by ConsumerLink which runs the Fly Buys panel of 120,000 active members, one of the largest in New Zealand. The sampling was nationally representative and post-weighted by age, gender and region to match the population.