Surveys conducted by two universities have seen Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's popularity fall to a record low.
A Chinese University poll last month shows Leung's rating dropped below the critical 50-point "pass mark" for the first time in this regular survey, falling 1.2 points from the previous month to 48.8.
Ratings for Leung's administration on the whole stood at 46.4 points, a 0.2 point drop from last month.
Chinese University researchers warned this diminishing popularity might harm the government's ability to implement its policies.
But a government source said Leung was still more popular than former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, whose rating towards the end of his term slumped to about 40 points in the same survey.
"It shows that the people still have hopes and expectations for CY Leung," the source said.
"C.Y. Leung responds to popularity poll results" video by Hedy Bok
But the poll's researchers did not agree.
"The result shows the degree to which citizens trust the government is still low," their report said.
"This reflects the fact that the government's policies over the past three months have not helped boost its popularity. The government should address the situation before this lack of public support hinders its effectiveness in ruling."
A poll released by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme yesterday recorded Leung's latest rating at 46 points - 0.5 points lower towards to end of September than earlier in the month.
Programme director Robert Ting-Yiu Chung said the result showed that Leung's popularity was "lingering at his record low".
The administration's relationship with Beijing registered a negative value for the first time, at negative 2 points.
This is the poorest figure recorded since the survey series began in July 1997.
But some people think Leung is doing something right.
Last month saw a significant rebound for the question relating to "improving people's livelihood", with a fall of 18 points in those expressing dissatisfaction with the government's performance.
The poll conducted by Chinese University interviewed about 700 people during September, while the poll by HKU, which was conducted from September 18 to 27, interviewed about 1,000 people.