Brazil’s Bolsonaro Narrows Gap Behind Lula, Latest Poll Finds

Two months before the elections, the former president is 12 points ahead of President Jair Bolsonaro, according to the latest Genial/Quaest poll, with support for the latter on the rise

Bolsonaro is 12 points behind rival candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, according to a poll published on August 3.
August 03, 2022 | 03:44 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has narrowed the gap between him and his rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva among voter intentions, with the incumbent now 12 points behind, according to the latest poll by Genial/Quaest.

The prior poll by the same companies put Bolsonaro 14 points behind Lula.

The election is scheduled for October 2.

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In the latest poll, Lula has 44% of voters’ preference, compared to Bolsonaro’s 32%. The gap is the tightest since Quaest’s July 2021 poll.

The two leading candidates are followed among voter intentions by Ciro Gomes, with 5%, and Simone Tebet and André Janones, each of whom garnered 2% of voters’ preference.

However, Janones suffered a setback on Tuesday when the regional electoral court of Minas Gerais state nullified the process in which he was elected deputy in 2018 due to gender quota fraud, which may disqualify him from standing in the October presidential elections, a decision that lies with the country’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE).

The 12-point gap between Lula and Bolsonaro comes two months before the first round of elections.

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Quaest says the results point to a recovery for the president. Since January, Bolsonaro has increased his share of voter intentions by nine percentage points, while Lula has remained almost stable, oscillating from 45% to 44%, after reaching 46% in April and May.

Lula would win in first round if election held today

However, Quaest says that, counting only the valid votes, Lula would win the election if it were today in the first round, with 51% of the votes.

Opposition to Bolsonaro has waned, from 59% in July and 55% in August, while potential voters’ rejection of Lula has increased, from 41% to 44% during the period.

Lula has lost ground in the country’s northeast, where his most loyal voters are, and in the north. Despite this, he still leads comfortably in the northeast, with 61% compared to Bolsonaro’s 20%, although the difference has fallen from over 50 points to 41 points.

In the country’s north, he is ahead by 40% to 37%, just one point above the margin of error of two percentage points.

In gender stratification, Lula leads Bolsonaro 46% to 28% among women, and 43% to 36% among men.

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The number of voters who say the economy is “very important” to their voting decision remains at 58%, but the proportion who say the economy has worsened in the last year has dropped from 64% to 56% - although 53% still say they have felt their ability to pay has worsened in the last three months.

Economy still the major concern among voters

The number of people who consider the economy the worst problem in the country fell from 44% in July to 40% in August. It is still the main problem pointed out by voters, but over the last month the factor lost ground to “social issues”, an issue highlighted by 20% of those polled, with most of them citing hunger and misery as social problems.

The survey also reveals that 53% of the electorate learned about the speech in which Bolsonaro repeated unproven statements about the electoral system to ambassadors at the Alvorada Palace last month, with 41% of those surveyed saying the news decreased their chances of voting for the president, while 31% said it makes no difference.

The speech hurt the president more than the effects caused by the increase in the allowance from 400 to 600 reais, according to the poll: 24% said their chances of voting for Bolsonaro increased with the raise, which will only begin to be paid on August 18.

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At the same time, Bolsonaro has been managing to distance himself from blame for the fuel increase.

In July, 25% of those polled held Bolsonaro responsible for the sector’s inflation, and 25% pointed to “external factors”. In August, 21% blamed the president and 34% blamed “external factors”. Petrobras was blamed by 20%, and is now blamed for high fuel prices by 18% of those polled.