Public Opinion Polls And The Proposed 'Mini-Referendum' In Hong Kong

With respect to the planned resignations by pan-democrat legislators from the five geographical constituencies in Hong Kong in order to force a by-election that will serve as a mini-referendum on constitutional reform, the Chief Writer of the Hong Kong Economic Journal (subscription required) Joseph Lian wrote today about the prospects based upon public opinion polling:

In the by-election, the resignation camp is in favor with respect to the quality of candidates.  The reason is very simple.  Those legislators who resign and run in the by-election again had won in the last direct election and therefore are of high quality.  Those who will be their opponents are either losers last time or newcomers who did not run last time.  Therefore, they will start from weak positions.  The situation favors the resigning incumbents ...

Is that so?

That might be the case if the elections were only one candidate wins in each geographical constituency.  In Hong Kong, multiple persons are elected in each geographical constituency.

The actual results of the 2008 Legislative Council elections are shown in the following table.  At this moment, the five persons likely to resign are (with the percentages of votes that they got last time):

Geographical Constituency List List Party Actual %
Hong Kong Island 1 Lam Chui Lin Liberal Party 0.7
@ 2 Ho Sau Lan Cyd Civic Act-up 9.9
@ 3 Kam Nai Wai, Yeung Sum Democratic Party 12.7
@ 4 Tsang Kin Shing League of Social Democrats 3.3
@ 5 Tsang Yok Sing Jasper, Choy So Yuk DAB 19.3
@ 6 Siu Man Wa Myra 0.6
@ 7 Lo Wing Lok 6.5
@ 8 Chan Tanya, Eu Yuet Mee Audrey Civic Party 26.4
@ 9 Ip Lau Suk Yee Regina, Shih Tai Cho Louis 19.5
@ 10 Lai Chi Keong Joseph 1.3
Kowloon East 1 Wu Chi Wai Democratic Party 6.9
@ 2 To Kwon Hang Andrew League of Social Democrats 12.1
@ 3 Chan Kam Lam DAB 22.6
@ 4 Leong Kah Kit Alan Civic Party 16.6
@ 5 Li Wai Ming Democratic Party 20.4
@ 6 Wong Kwok Kin Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 21.3
Kowloon West 1 Chong Wing Charn Francis 0.5
@ 2 Lee Wai King Starry DAB 18.9
@ 3 Lung Wai Man James 0.3
@ 4 To Kun Sun James Democratic Party 14.4
@ 5 Mo Man Ching Claudia Civic Party 8.4
@ 6 Lam Yi Lai 0.3
@ 7 Leung Mei Fun 9.6
@ 8 Wong Yuk Man League of Social Democrats 18.2
@ 9 Tien Michael Puk Sun Liberal Party 6.3
@ 10 Fung Kin Kee Frederick ADPL 17.2
@ 11 Lau Chin Shek 5.1
@ 12 Lau Yuk Shing 0.1
@ 13 Tam Hoi Pong 0.8
New Territories East 1 Tien Pei Chun James Liberal Party 8.0
@ 2 Siu See Kong Party for Civic Rights & Livelihood of the People of Hong Kong Limited 0.3
@ 3 Lau Wai Hing Emily The Frontier 9.2
@ 4 Wong Shing Chi Democratic Party 12.2
@ 5 Leung Kwok Hung League of Social Democrats 12.4
@ 6 Lee Chi Wing Alvin 1.1
@ 7 Cheng Kar Foo Andrew Democratic Party 11.6
@ 8 Tong Ka Wah Ronny Civic Party 11.1
@ 9 Pong Scarlett Oi Lan 5.7
@ 10 Lau Kong Wah, Chan Hak Kan DAB 28.4
New Territories West 1 Cheung Chiu Hung Civic Party 7.0
@ 2 Lee Cheuk Yan Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 10.6
@ 3 Tam Yiu Chung, Cheung Hok Ming DAB 23.1
@ 4 Ho Chun Yan Democratic Party 9.2
@ 5 Tandon Lal Chaing ADPL 1.7
@ 6 Yuen Wai Chung 0.3
@ 7 Chan Wai Yip Albert League of Social Democrats 8.1
@ 8 Chow Ping Tim 0.4
@ 9 Wong Kwok Hing 9.0
@ 10 Cheung Yin Tung 2.5
@ 11 Leung Suet Fong Blue Intelligent Union 0.3
@ 12 Chow Liang Shuk Yee Selina Liberal Party 5.4
@ 13 Leung Yiu Chung Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre    10.7
@ 14 Lee Wing Tat Democratic Party 11.5

None of the five candidates polled a plurality that would insure that they automatically win a by-election.  They will have to attract votes from their purported allies, as in the following:

This is the so-called 60/40 golden rule for the share of votes between the pan-democrats and the pro-establishment camp.

How likely are these automatic vote transfers likely to occur with no loss at all?

Here is the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme poll on the top 10 Legislative Councilors with the highest recognition rates:

Please use a scale of 0-100 to rate your extent of support to XXX, with 0 indicating absolutely not supportive, 100 indicating absolutely supportive and 50 indicating half-half. How would you rate XXX?

62.4%: Audrey Eu
61.9%: Regina Ip
60.1%: Alan Leong
57.7%: Lee Cheuk-yan
57.3%: Jasper Tsang
52.8%: Albert Ho
51.3%: Emily Lau
35.5%: Raymond Wong
32.6%: Kam Nai-wai
Leung Kwok-hung

Of the five candidates, Alan Leong is well-recognized and highly rated.  That is the preferred type of candidate in this situation.  Albert Chan (#17) and Tanya Chan (#19) are not as well-recognized, but they do not appear to have any negatives (because that would make them recognizable as in the case of the scandal-plagued Kam Nai-wai).  Raymond Wong and Leung Kwok-hung are well-recognized and regarded very negatively (note: By comparison, former Chinese premier Li Peng who is regarded as the person most responsible for the Tiananmen Square massacre has a rating of 44.1).

More detailed ratings (on a scale of 1 to 6) can be found in the Hong Kong Research Association poll:

Hong Kong Island

3.48: Regina Ip
3.43: Jasper Tsang
3.33: Audrey Eu
3.10: Cyd Ho
2.92: Tanya Chan
2.76: Kam Nai-wai

Kowloon East

2.98: Li Wai Ming
2.87: Alan Leong
2.71: Chan Kam Lam
2.50: Wong Kwok Kin

Kowloon West

3.25: Frederick Fung
3.14: James To
3.00: Starry Lee
2.94: Leung Mei Fun
2.64: Raymond Wong

New Territories East

3.33: Andrew Cheng Kar Foo
3.25: Emily Lau Wai Hing
3.06: Ronny Tong Ka Wah
3.06: Lau Kwong Wah
2.85: Wong Shing Chi
2.50: Chan Hak Kan
Leung Kwok Hung

New Territories

3.37: Leung Yiu Chung
3.26: Lee Cheuk Yan
3.22: Tam Yiu Chung
2.95: Albert Ho
2.95: Lee Wing Tat
2.78: Cheung Hok Ming
2.70: Wong Kwok Hing
Albert Chan Wai Yip

Is this the candidate list the most likely to succeed?  Clearly not.  The three League of Social Democrats legislators have the lowest ratings in their respective geographical constituencies.

So why is this list being proposed as if it is already given fact?  To quote W. B. Yeats in The Second Coming:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.