HKU POP releases findings of the third round District Council election surveyBack

Press Release on November 13, 2003

Whenever there are large-scale elections, the Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong would conduct regular surveys to track opinion changes. On election days, POP would also conduct exit polls to study voter behaviour and motivation. As District Council Elections draw near, the research team conducted the first and second rounds of pre-election telephone surveys in mid-September and late October respectively, and released the findings some time ago. Released herewith are the findings of the third round of pre-election telephone surveys, details of which have been posted at the "HKU POP SITE" ( Between November 3 and 6, 2003, POP conducted a random telephone survey which successfully interviewed 1,001 Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong of age 18 or above, of which 721 were registered voters. Major findings on registered voter's opinions are summarized below, together with parallel figures obtained in September and October this year, as well as those in September, October and November of 1999:

  Year 1999 Year 2003
 Date of survey 15-17/9 26-27/10 18-19/11 15-17/9 19-22/10 3-6/11
 Sub-sample base (registered voters) 366 384 728 714 725 721
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/-5% +/-5% +/-3% +/-4% +/-4% +/-3%
 Proportion of voters who planned to vote in DC Election 69% 70% 71% 67% 70% 75%
 Critical consideration: stand on livelihood issues 81% 84% 77% 77% 79% 77%
 Critical consideration: political alignment 5% 7% 9% 11% 13% 14%
 Main factor: past performance 47% 49% 46% 40% 43% 46%
 Main factor: platform and political alignment 30% 33% 34% 44% 36% 36%
 Main factor: personal background and performance during election 7% 8% 6% 8% 7% 3%
 First problem to be tackled: livelihood 40% 37% 35% 42% 43% 44%
 First problem to be tackled: local district problems 23% 25% 28% 20% 21% 30%
 First problem to be tackled: economy 7% 14% 12% 17% 14% 10%
 First problem to be tackled: employment/labour 7% 6% 9% 10% 9% 5%

* "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.


As election day draws near, voters' intention to vote has increased accordingly. The latest voting intention of registered voters was 75%, which was slightly higher than that of 1999. However, it should be noted that 75% intention to vote may not convert into 75% turnout, because many voters who claimed that they planned to vote eventually failed to do so. Results showed that, among the registered voters who claimed they planned to vote, only 45% (constituting 33% of all registered voters) had already decided whom to vote for. Besides, only two-thirds of all registered voters interviewed knew what political parties were running for elections in their constituencies.


Around three weeks before this year's elections, if registered voters were to vote, 77% would choose their candidate according to that person's stand on livelihood issues, 14% said the candidate's political alignment would be decisive. As for specific factors, 46% considered a candidate's past performance to be most important, 36% opted for platform and political alignment, and 3% considered a candidate's personal background and performance during election to be most important. Meanwhile, 44% of registered voters said the newly elected District Councillors should first tackle livelihood problems, while 30% and 10% respectively opted for local district and economic problems. The former figure has significantly increased by 9 percentage points from that of late October.


As in the second round of pre-election survey, to study the influence of the July 1 Demonstration on the coming elections, comparisons were made between the answers given by those who participated in the July 1 Demonstration and those who did not. Results revealed that, of the 177 registered voters who joined the demonstration, 25% would choose their candidate according to that person's political alignment, whereas 66% opted for a candidate's stand on livelihood issues. The former figure was 15-percentage-point higher than that of registered voters who did not join the demonstration.


On the other hand, among registered voters, 34% said the July 1 Demonstration had increased their intention to vote in the District Council Elections. Meanwhile, of the registered voters who joined the demonstration, 60% said their intention to vote had been increased by the event, or 34 percentage points higher than the corresponding figure for registered voters who did not join the demonstration. Besides, 83% of registered voters who joined the July 1 Demonstration intended to vote in the District Council Elections. The figure has increased along with the overall voting intention of registered voters, which was also 11 percentage points higher than those who did not join the demonstration.

  Participants of July 1 Demonstration Non-participants of July 1 Demonstration
 Sub-sample base (registered voters) 177 540
 Critical consideration: stand on livelihood issues 66% 80%
 Critical consideration: political alignment 25% 10%
 Intended to vote in DC Election 83% 72%
 No intention to vote in DC Election 10% 15%
 Voting intention increased by the July 1 Demonstration 60% 26%
 Voting intention decreased by the July 1 Demonstration 4% 6%
 Voting intention unchanged by the July 1 Demonstration 36% 64%

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, made the following analysis: "Survey results showed that, as elections draw near, voters are beginning to pay more attention to district affairs. Their intention to vote has increased slightly, but there is very little change in their basic inclination. July 1 is the focus of this year's election studies. According to our figures, voters who participated in the demonstration are more inclined to vote, and have stronger political demands. However, because such voters only constitute a small proportion of all registered voters, their votes would only become decisive in constituencies where competition is keen."


POP will continue to monitor the development of the elections. Further results will be published in accordance with our normal practice. Shall anyone have any question regarding the research design of these surveys, members of the POP Team will be happy to answer them, but we will not further comment on the findings. Shall any person or journalist have any other questions, please email them to us at <[email protected]>. The Director of Public Opinion Programme would answer them as soon as possible. Please note that everything carried in the POP Site does not represent the stand of the University of Hong Kong.