Pollsters yesterday promised swift answers on why they failed to forecast the high election turnout and made flawed predictions of several results. Most opinion polls forecast a turnout of 30 to 35 per cent, far below the final figure of 53 per cent. A late poll by the University of Hong Kong's Social Science Research Centre predicted a 40 per cent turnout. 'We have to be honest and admit we all got it wrong,' said pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu of the University of Hong Kong. 'Every pollster must now conduct a postmortem. If we can't come up with acceptable reasons within a month or two, we'll all lose out.' Asian Commercial Research (ACR) managing director David Bottomley said the errors were more serious than those which discredited British pollsters after they badly misjudged the result of the 1992 general election. He promised preliminary answers within a fortnight. Pollsters say the problem is that many people say they will vote but then do not. Surveys find more than 80 per cent of respondents claim they will vote and have to use statistical models to reduce this to a realistic level. These worked in the 1995 elections but went wrong this time. There was also criticism of the pollsters from The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing, who topped the ballot in New Territories East. 'Some of them have been badly discredited by this,' she said yesterday. 'They must review their methods, otherwise they will lose all credibility.' Polls by ACR and the University of Hong Kong consistently showed Ms Lau trailing the Democratic Party. A survey by the Hong Kong Transition Project predicted Ms Lau would get only seven per cent of the vote. But project director Michael DeGolyer doubled this to 14 per cent, based on an 'anthropological study' of the number and size of her campaign posters. Although Ms Lau came first with 31 per cent, Mr DeGolyer insisted there was no need to review his findings, describing them as 'pretty good'. He said his project was not primarily interested in accurately predicting the results and might not make future surveys available to the press. A Democratic Party source said the pollsters' error was to include party labels in their questions, thereby underestimating Ms Lau's personal popularity. The party's own polls consistently placed Ms Lau in the lead throughout the campaign. Most polls also underestimated support for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. Mr Chung said this was probably because such voters were more reluctant to answer pollsters' questions: a trend observed in other countries among voters for conservative or minority parties.