Thursday, 8 December 2011
In the latest survey Leung's support was more than double Tang's at 47.3 percent compared to 23.8 percent of 1,012 respondents.
Some 19.2 percent backed Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai even though she said she wasn't running, and Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan is a distant fourth at 3.7 percent.
The University of Hong Kong conducted the survey days after Leung and Tang formally declared their candidacies.
Leung's edge over Tang was even more pronounced when asked to select one or the other in a two-man race. Leung received 52.7 percent support, giving him a lead of more than 26 percentage points.
Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the public opinion program said, "Our latest survey shows that Leung continues to maintain a comfortable lead over Henry Tang, after a series of campaign activities from both sides."
Tang has failed to close the popularity gap despite having heavyweights backing him, such as former Monetary Authority chief Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, HSBC Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Wong Tung-shun, Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po and former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-cheung.
Tang has also hired a new public relations team after his two-month contract with AsiaNet Communications expired. The public relations company was blamed for mishandling the disclosure of Tang's extramarital affair(s) in early October.
While it is true only 1,200 chosen ones will actually vote for the next chief executive, most of whom are pro-China, Beijing hinted earlier that it would have to drop support for Tang if he was not popular, as the Chinese government doesn't want to be seen backing a loser.
So now that the popularity poll results are in, what will Beijing do now?