The result of this year's Legislative Council Election in Hong Kong is a surprise to many people. As the pan-democrats failed to coordinate their supporters and competed with each others for their votes, most of the mainstream media predicted that the pan-dem alliance would not get more than 50% seat in the district election and would probably failed to become a significant minority (one third of the Legco seats) for voting down the government's political reform proposal concerning the universal suffrage arrangement.
Moreover, the pre-election polls were not very favorable to the pan democrats. As a result, when the voters turnout rate dropped from 55% (in 2004) to 45% this year, even the pan-democrats had lost their confidence. The vice president of Democracy Party, Sin Chung-kai, told the mainstream media a very sober picture at the end of the voting day (around mid-night of Sept 7) that the pan-dem might get less than 15 seats in the district election.
On the next day, most of the mainstream media predicted a setback for pan-democrats in the election. However, it turned out that the pan-dem candidates have almost maximized their seats in the district election. Want to know why?
First of all, public opinion polls have many flaws as indicated in the past. Roland had written a review of 2004 polling results before the election on 28 of Aug. The poll had a 22-29% shortfall error, especially for the pro-establishment party, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).
Here is Roland's explanation:
Why are the HKU POP poll numbers so wrong for the DAB? This is a matter of conjecture. One explanation that is often given is that the DAB supporters are not included in sampling frame (i.e. they do not have telephones) or else they hide their opinions when interviewed. My preferred explanation is that the DAB has a superior GOTV (Get Out The Vote) effort. According to the public opinion polls, about 90% of the people said that they will vote. In reality, just over 55% voted. The DAB is simply better able to get their supporters to vote because they have more manpower and resources (as in reminder phone calls, personal visits, etc). Therefore, the DAB end up with a higher share of the actual votes than the polls would indicate.
So according to Roland's analysis and past experience, the polls should have underestimated DAB's potential and the picture for pan-democrats should be more gloomy. However, one week before the voting day, the election committee issued a message to the Hong Kong University survey center, warned that they shouldn't in any case publish the polling result to the public, or else they would violate the election regulation.
At the same time, Hong Kong University survey center is among one of the most professional bodies for election poll even though the survey was sponsored by a pro-dem media group.
Alone in the fart pointed out that Hong Kong University only had 178 interviewers near the election stations, while there were some pro-establishment, unprofessional survey organizations mobilizing 1,990 interviewers for collecting exit data. And they are not responsible to the public:
香港政策研究所 (Hong Kong Policy Research Institute Limited) 由葉國華主理，香港青年協進會 (Hong Kong Youths Unified Association) 自稱「在中央人民政府駐港聯絡辦、民政事務局等各政府部門、各友好團體及社會知名人士支持指導下，會務得以持續發展」，公共事務研究學會 (Public Affairs Research Society) 與香港社會及經濟研究所 (Hong Kong Social and Economic Research Centre) 面目模糊，既不是獲稅務局豁免繳稅的團體，網頁也沒有一個。他們這麼人強馬壯，背後必有金主支持，可是如果他們是商營研究社的話，沒理由連網頁都沒有，加上他們和香港青年協進會的選址巧妙地沒有重疊，這些機構的背景為何，實在呼之欲出。如果要擔心鍾庭耀推動的兩隊人（共 178 人）偏幫某些黨派的話，是否應更擔心上述四個機構（共派出 1990 人）的動向？
Hong Kong Policy Research Institute Limited is headed by Yip Kwok Wah (translator notes: a consultant for Chinese authority in Hong Kong). Hong Kong Youths Unified Association claimed that the organization “is sustained by the support of the Liaison office of the Central people's government in Hong Kong, SAR, Home Affair Bureau, etc”. Public Affairs Research Society and Hong Kong Social and Economic Research Centre are not registered as tax exempted organizations, they don't have a public face, not even a single website. It is quite obvious that they have finance support for organizing such a huge number of interviewers. However, if they were commercial survey organizations, it is hard to believe that they don't have any website. It is not difficult to guess their background. If we are to worry about the 178 interviewer team leaded by Robert Chung (head of Hong Kong University survey center) for helping certain political parties, shouldn't we be more worried about the above 4 organizations which have a team of 1,990 interviewers?
As a result of the above survey dispute, Dar Fung from the facebook created a group: Tell the pollster: “I voted for DAB!”
今屆立法會選舉﹐親建制派陣營要錢有錢要人有人﹐佢地可以晌好多票站門口搞「民意調查」。既然exit poll的作用是協助調整選舉策略，exit poll就是競選活動的一部份，就要計入選舉開支。但現時大規模做exit poll的機構都是蓋住招牌的左派組織，以「學術研究」為名獲取最新投票形勢，臨場調動人馬(在講求配票平均的比例代表制，掌握最新選票分佈就更形關鍵)，卻佯裝「獨立」，用意就是劃清界線，瞞報選舉開支。
In this year's election, the pro-establishment has the money and has the labour. They have so many people standing outside the election stations for conducting “public opinion survey”. As the main purpose of exit poll is to coordinate votes, exit poll should be considered as part of the election campaign, it should be counted in the election budget. However, at present, most of the exit poll organizations are in fact covered up left wing pro-establishment groups. They pretend to be academic organizations for getting the latest data about the election, so that they can mobilize their votes (in the existing election system, such coordination is the key to success). They pretend to be independent, so that they don't need to register the expense.
The real “unfair and unjust” story here is that someone try to cover up their election expense while the government fails to stop the private use of exit poll. As a result, the pro-establishment can abuse the system! So, our friends, when someone asks you to do exit poll in the election day, no matter who you are voting for, please say “I voted for DAB!”
There are around 20,000 members joining the group, and the members have spread the words around in all major forums. Judging from the huge error in the exit poll and mainstream media report, the campaign has great success.
Apart from “I voted for DAB!” campaign, netizens’ support for the League of Socialist Democrats (LSD) is believed to be a major factor for the success of this minority political group. The political group is loosely organized and poor, however, they managed to get 3 seats out of their 5 election candidates.
Kursk's has some observations concerning the success of LSD in relation to their internet mobilization:
# in the past, no one cares about election forums, now with youtube, if there are some explosive content, the hit rate jumps.
# we shouldn't ignore internet mobilization, i really mean it. The pan-dem die hard supporters are mobilized from the internet. In my opinion, it is related to the edison sexphoto scandal mobilization, or the popularity of myradio (internet radio).
# i hope academics can have some good survey about young voters concerning their voting rate, political attribution. From my observation, most netizens support LSD.
Singsit is very proud that LSD and pan-dem had such a beautiful fight in Eastern New Territories. Both his wife and himself have voted for Long Hair. In the end, the pro-establishment got two seats while the pan-dem got 5 seats. The blogger posted a most popular post-election youtube, in which long hair challenged the DAB: after spending millions of dollars and all you get is two seats, it's time for you to sleep!
Even though the pan dem has great success, hegelchong feels that they have to take the lesson and develop their “iron vote” through neighborhood network.
You can criticize that the pro-establishment's iron votes are the base of conservative political line in Hong Kong, however, strong neighbor organization is not a bad thing. The pan democratic movement has been active in Hong Kong for 20-30 years, however, it seems that their voters don't have such kind of neighborhood and social network. What happens to their district community work? Have they developed a community based democracy movement? Whenever the election comes, the pan-dem would yell around for volunteers, doesn't it tell us something?