POPULARITY of the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, has plunged to its lowest point since mid December following his decision to gazette the electoral bill for the 1994/95 elections. Support for Mr Patten's constitutional package has also dipped to a record low with the margin between those supporting and opposing the plan narrowing to only about eight per cent. The latest findings were contained in a poll conducted by the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hongkong after Mr Patten announced on March 12 that he and the Executive Council had decided to go ahead and gazette the electoral bill that day. According to the poll, Mr Patten's popularity suffered from the live broadcast of his speech, in which he said China had had enough time to respond to negotiations to hold talks about the future political development but only that morning Beijing had changed its position. His rating on a scale of 100 points plunged by six points to 55.28, only six days after the electoral bill was gazetted. ''The drop of more than six points in one week is the steepest one and also a record for Mr Patten,'' said the research officer organising the poll, Mr Robert Chung Ting-yiu. Mr Patten's popularity hit a record low of 53.3 points in mid-December after a series of threats from Beijing that contracts and franchises straddling 1997 might not be honoured if the Hongkong Government persisted with the Patten plan. Mr Patten's popularity was at its peak, 65.5 points, during the first week of October when he made his first policy address to the Legislative Council during which he unveiled the electoral changes that have enraged Beijing. The latest survey found that only 26.8 per cent of respondents now gave their backing to Mr Patten's political blueprint while those against it tallied 18.6 per cent, reducing the margin of support to 8.2 per cent, the narrowest ever registered. Support for Mr Patten's October 7 policy speech as a whole is also dwindling with only 26.1 per cent of respondents saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with it. A total of 13.8 per cent indicated they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the speech. Those who did not have a stance on Mr Patten's policy address amounted to 52.7 per cent. Mr Chung said the results showed that support for Mr Patten was on the slide since the bill was gazetted and relations with China moved into a new phase. ''This, of course, is not to say that Mr Patten has made the right or wrong move, since public opinion is only one of many factors to be taken into consideration in executing a policy, and that public opinion may change,'' Mr Chung said. ''Nevertheless, the signal is clear that the public would like to see negotiations and compromise, and the Governor must be ultra-careful if he would like to have the public on his side,'' he added. However, the Governor's spokesman, Mr Mike Hanson, said the poll indicated that Mr Patten still enjoyed a very high level of support in the community. Mr Hanson also insisted that the findings indicated that Mr Patten's political package still enjoyed a considerable level of support with far more support than the opposition camp. ''So that's encouraging,'' he said. With about 53 per cent of the respondents providing a ''don't know'' answer, Mr Hanson said it was a reflection of the disappointment that the talks were unable to proceed.