Surge in support for Carrie Lam as next Hong Kong leader among ‘pro-establishment’ residents

Former chief secretary gains 14 percentage points after Regina Ip quits race, but arch-rival John Tsang consolidates lead among young, better educated and more radical

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 9:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 9:31am

Support among “pro-establishment” residents for chief executive candidate Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has surged by more than 14 percentage points after her government-friendly rival Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee dropped out of the race two weeks ago.

The findings in Chinese University’s latest opinion survey, commissioned by the Post, also found that popular underdog John Tsang Chun-wah had further consolidated his strong support base among the young, better-educated and those who identify themselves as “localists or pan-democrats”.

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The university’s pollsters interviewed 1,009 Hong Kong residents from March 8 to 13. Among them, 46.6 per cent supported Tsang as Hong Kong’s next chief executive, 29.5 per cent supported Lam while 10.1 per cent backed the third contender, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

However, among those aged 18 to 29, Tsang’s approval rating was 61.4 per cent – up from 59.1 per cent a month ago. Woo was supported by 17.5 per cent of respondents in that age group, while Lam was supported by a meagre 7.5 per cent – down from 12.6 per cent last month.

Among those aged 60 or above, 41.6 per cent preferred Lam, compared with 33 per cent for Tsang.

Tsang, formerly the financial secretary, was also more popular than Lam among those with a tertiary education – 61.5 per cent versus 17.5 per cent.

For those educated up to Primary Three level, nearly 40 per cent opted for Lam, the former chief secretary, while 33.2 per cent backed Tsang.

In terms of political orientation, Lam’s big lead among “pro-establishment” residents increased to 73.8 per cent, up 14.4 percentage points from a month ago.

Among those who classified themselves as “pan-democrats”, 66.5 per cent favoured Tsang, a rise of 5.5 percentage points.

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These shifts came after Tsang submitted 165 nominations from Election Committee members, predominantly pan-democrats, to enter the race, while Lam submitted 580 nominations, all from the pro-establishment camp, and Woo submitted 180. Ip dropped out of the race on March 1.

Professor Francis Lee, of Chinese University’s school of journalism and communication, said the poll results showed Lam’s campaign in the past two months had failed in terms of winning over young people.

“That she may not be familiar with using social media is not something fatal. Young people may understand it, given her age and background.

“But what she says seems to suggest she is totally out of touch with the younger generation,” said Lee, who cited her earlier “white terror” remarks in response to online comments against her and her supporters.

The 1,194 Election Committee members will choose the chief executive in a secret ballot on March 26.