2022 Race

Bolsonaro’s polling growth stops

Bolsonaro polling growth stops
Photo: Alan Santos/PR

A new presidential survey by Ipec, a renowned Brazilian pollster, suggests that President Jair Bolsonaro may be losing momentum in his pursuit of frontrunner and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

According to the latest poll, Lula remains with 44 percent of voting intentions, while Mr. Bolsonaro lost one percentage point and sits at 31 percent. Ciro Gomes and Simone Tebet — who try to break the duopoly between the center-left former head of state and the far-right incumbent — saw their polling curves turn upward.

As we flagged last Tuesday in our Brazil Daily newsletter, the 2022 election pits the two best-known politicians in the country against one another — which goes a long way toward explaining why the polling scenario has not changed much. The only event to have had a significant effect on the polls until now was former Justice Minister Sergio Moro dropping out of the race in April, with his voters mostly migrating to Mr. Bolsonaro.

But the latest Ipec poll may sound the alarm for the president, who has so far struggled to narrow the gap to Lula despite forcing gas prices down, opening the faucet of aid money to poor voters, and overseeing a rebound in the job market.

Despite many positive macroeconomic results, the government’s recent measures have not created the feel-good effects Mr. Bolsonaro hoped for — mainly due to scorching inflation.

Moreover, a poor performance in last week’s debate and recent reports that half of the real estate assets owned by the Bolsonaro family were purchased in cash (a practice that makes money untraceable and is heavily associated with money-laundering schemes) may also have hurt the president’s stock.

But the poll also brings a piece of bad news for Lula. His numbers have been stable, but a small rally by third-way candidates may prevent him from clinching the race already on October 2 — and a runoff may be necessary. Unlike in previous readings, Lula is no longer polling ahead of the sum of his adversaries.

For more than a year, Mr. Bolsonaro has given all signals that he will not accept defeat gracefully and may try to barricade himself in office. On Wednesday, the president will lead political rallies on Independence Day laden with putschist overtones. An association of poll workers fears the September 7 demonstrations may be a dress rehearsal for an attack against the electoral system.