HKU POP releases findings of the final wave of District Council pre-election surveyBack


Press Release on November 21, 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 has already conducted three rounds of pre-election telephone surveys and released the findings some time ago. Released herewith are the findings of the fourth and final round of pre-election surveys, which focus on voters' intention to vote, and the chance of the winning for candidates from different political camps. Detailed figures have been posted at the "HKU POP SITE" (http://hkupop.hku.hk).

 

Between November 15 and 19, 2003, POP conducted a random telephone survey which successfully interviewed 1,622 Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong of age 18 or above, of whom 1,157 were registered voters. Major findings on registered voters' opinions are summarized below, together with parallel figures obtained in 1999 and earlier this year:

 
  Year 1999 Year 2003
 Date of survey 15-17/9 26-27/10 18-19/11 24-25/11 15-17/9 19-22/10 3-6/11 15-19/11
 Sub-sample base (registered voters) 366 384 728 802 714 725 721 1,157
  Overall response rate 47.9% 46.7% 49.1% 52.5% 70.1% 60.0% 60.7% 65.1%
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/-5% +/-5% +/-4% +/-4% +/-4% +/-4% +/-4% +/-3%
 
 Proportion of voters who planned to vote in DC Election 69% 70% 71% 74% 67% 70% 75% 74%
 Proportion of voters who had decided whom to vote for -- -- 22% 28% -- -- 33% 37%
 Proportion of voters who knew what political parties were running for elections in their constituencies -- -- -- -- -- -- 67% 71%
 Main factor: past performance 47% 49% 46% 54% 40% 43% 46% 47%
 Main factor: platform and political alignment 30% 33% 34% 29% 44% 36% 36% 35%
 Main factor: personal background and performance during election 7% 8% 6% 6% 8% 7% 3% 3%

* "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.

 

A few days before this year's elections, 71% of registered voters knew what political parties were running in their constituencies, representing a slight increase of 4 percentage points from the figure registered 2 weeks ago. The latest voting intention of registered voters was 74%, meaning zero growth in the recent fortnight, and exactly the same as that in 1999. However, the proportion of intending voters who had already decided whom to vote for constituted 37% of all registered voters, or 9 percentage points higher than that of 1999. With respect to specific factors in selecting a candidate, 47% considered a candidate's past performance to be most important, 35% opted for platform and political alignment, and 3% regarded a candidate's personal background and performance during election to be most important. These figures were more or less the same as those registered 2 weeks ago.

 

Besides, as in the first three rounds of pre-election surveys, 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 239 registered voters who joined the demonstration, 81% intended to vote in the coming District Council Elections. The figure was similar to that registered in early November, which was also 9 percentage points higher than that for non-participants.

 
  Participants of July 1 Demonstration Non-participants of July 1 Demonstration
 Sub-sample base (registered voters) 239 868
 Intended to vote in DC Election 81% 72%
 No intention to vote in DC Election 11% 13%
 

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, made the following analysis: "Speaking from the figures, a distinctive feature of this year's elections is that voters' intention to vote began to level off about three weeks before the elections. They are signs that the figure is falling, as elections cool off, somewhat prematurely. This has a negative effect on the turnout rate. On the other hand, the percentage of those who have made up their mind on how to vote has increased, compared to that of 1999. This has a positive effect on the turnout rate. All in all, there may be a net gain of a few percentage points. Starting from the actual turnout rate of 35.8% in 1999, this year's turnout may well be within the 35% to 40% region, depending on the final atmosphere."

 

Prior to District Council Elections in the past, POP always tried to work out the chance of winning for candidates from different political camps across various districts. The methodology described below has been fairly accurate in 1994 and 1999. We are now using it again, and check its accuracy after the elections. The projection method is summarized as follows:

 

1. The 837 candidates (including those elected unopposed) in all 400 geographical constituencies across 18 districts were first grouped into 4 camps according to their political affiliations, namely, "Pro-China", "Democrats", Liberal Party and "Independents/others".

 

2. Restricted by the length of the questionnaire, the "Pro-China" camp only included Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Progressive Alliance and Civil Force. Democrats only included Democratic Party, Hong Kong Association for Democracy & People's Livelihood, Frontier, Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre and Civic Act-up. Liberal Party formed its own group, while all other candidates were grouped under "Independents/Others".

 

3. During the interviews, respondents were prompted with the aforementioned names of political groups, and their support of these political groups measured. Using the figures obtained in this last round of pre-election survey, the research team then worked out a political strength index for each of the political camps in each constituency. The number of seats won by each political camp in each district, and hence the success rate for each of them, were obtained by multiplying the number of candidates from different political camps by the political strength index of their group.

 

4. These figures and percentages were then slightly adjusted for errors registered in the previous projection exercise.

 

Using this method of projection, the number of seats won by different political camps in the 18 districts, and hence the distribution of seats in each district, are shown as follows:

 

Distribution of seats

  Year 2003(predicted number of seats won) Year 2003(predicted distribution of seats)
  Pro-China Democrats Liberal Indep / others Total Pro-China Democrats Liberal Indep / others Total
 Wan Chai 3.3 4.6 0.0 3.1 11 30% 42% 0% 28% 100%
 Eastern 13.9 5.8 0.4 16.9 37 38% 16% 1% 46% 100%
 Central/Western 2.4 4.1 1.4 7.0 15 16% 27% 9% 47% 100%
 Southern 1.1 2.8 0.8 12.3 17 6% 16% 5% 72% 100%
 Kwun Tong 8.3 7.0 0.2 18.6 34 24% 21% 1% 55% 100%
 Kowloon City 3.2 7.0 1.7 10.0 22 15% 32% 8% 46% 100%
 Wong Tai Sin 3.4 8.8 0.0 12.8 25 14% 35% 0% 51% 100%
 Yau Tsim Mong 2.4 6.8 0.0 6.8 16 15% 43% 0% 42% 100%
 Sham Shui Po 3.0 12.7 0.3 4.9 21 14% 61% 2% 24% 100%
 Sai Kung 11.3 3.0 0.4 5.3 20 56% 15% 2% 27% 100%
 Sha Tin 21.8 5.4 0.2 8.7 36 61% 15% 0% 24% 100%
 Islands 2.9 0.5 0.0 4.7 8 36% 6% 0% 58% 100%
 Tsuen Wan 2.0 4.7 0.4 9.9 17 12% 28% 2% 58% 100%
 Kwai Tsing 9.3 8.3 0.2 10.2 28 33% 30% 1% 36% 100%
 Tuen Mun 7.9 13.1 0.0 8.1 29 27% 45% 0% 28% 100%
 Yuen Long 8.4 1.3 1.3 18.0 29 29% 5% 5% 62% 100%
 North 7.0 4.6 0.1 4.3 16 44% 29% 1% 27% 100%
 Tai Po 4.1 6.3 1.2 7.4 19 22% 33% 6% 39% 100%
 Candidates sent 249 181 25 382 837 249 181 25 382 837
 Seats won 115.5 106.8 8.7 169.0 400.0 29% 27% 2% 42% 100%
 Success rate 46% 59% 35% 44% 48% -- -- -- -- --
 

Chung analyzed, "If the above projection is true, then among the 400 directly-elected seats in the coming District Council, the Pro-China camp would get about 116 seats, nearly 107 seats would go to the democrats, around 9 would go to the liberals, while the remaining 169 seats or so would be shared by other candidates. Notwithstanding its higher rate of success, the democrats would won fewer seats than the Pro-China camp. Together with seats appointed by the Chief Executive, the coming District Council would still be dominated by the conservatives."

 

Shall anyone have any question regarding the research design of the surveys mentioned, 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.