The more the better is certainly the answer.
One secret is the greater quantity of quality articles that 'are' popular the better. Here is where the contrast between quality and popularity arrives. One could use that as a theme for writing an intriguing mystery novel spanning the characters over generations. Each of your hubs is an 'individual, independent, and autonomous' character in that mystery.
Article maturation is an important! It is suggested by most successful Hubbers that time period is 6 months to a year. That is the time to rank an article within the Google Search Engine. Here is where Search Engine Optimization knowledge enters the picture.
To understand article maturation one must consider there basically are two types of views. Inorganic views and organic views. Inorganic views are from within HubPages communities. Organic are views from outside those communities most arriving from within Google[dot]com Remember 'all views count'. To see that at work follow these easy steps;
GOTO your My Account Page → Traffic Sources (Gray Header above your stats). There you will discover the sources of your traffic for your Hubber Profile as a whole. The first column is labeled domain. That indicates where your views are coming from. For more join Google Analytics.
Search Engine Optimization comes into play seeking 'More' Organic Views. Those may come from sharing at the many Social Media sites like Facebook, using Twitter, and posting at Google+ as 'only' three of many examples. Other sources are joining or creating niche topic writing groups, joining niche topic forums, or other outside sources for Organic Traffic.
So, with a little thought answering the question of quality contrast popularity is not an easy answer. Please remember each article stands on its own with both quality and popularity. There simply is not enough space here to explain how Google ranks articles.
A hint is the Hub-to-Hub relationship is primarily referring to each other. That is where grouping hubs is important within a like 'Niche' Topic. There is a grouping feature at HubPages My Account Page. So, deleting a hub to make another hub popular is a wide stretch IMHO early in the life of your Hubber Profile also known as a subdomain with SEO.
However, again IMHO the key is "One secret is the greater quantity of quality articles that 'are' popular the better" while remembering each hub is "Individual, independent, and autonomous".