A new poll by PoderData confirms a trend picked up by other institutes: President Jair Bolsonaro is closing the gap to the frontrunner for the October election, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In August 2021, the two were separated by 14 points. Now, PoderData has Mr. Bolsonaro trailing by just 8 points.
Despite this rally from the incumbent, Lula remains the head-and-shoulders favorite to win a third presidential term, 12 years after leaving office. But the polls suggest a movement we flagged in our 2022 annual report: there is little room for a “third-way” candidate, as the available options have offered little to the electorate other than “not being Jair Bolsonaro nor Lula.”
Additionally, what recent surveys show is that the possibility of a first-round win by Lula becomes more and more remote as Election Day looms closer. A head-to-head contest between Mr. Bolsonaro and Lula will probably be closer than polls show now. For one, early runoff polls fail to reproduce the levels of polarization these races usually involve — furthermore, polls do not factor in vote abstention.
Voting is mandatory in Brazil, but as electoral courts modernize the ways through which Brazilians can justify their abstentions, the electoral system becomes a de facto optional vote.