2022 Race

Bolsonaro slightly rises in poll, but a one-round election remains possible

poll datafolha Bolsonaro slightly rises in poll, but a one-round election remains possible
Jair Bolsonaro during a meeting with female supporters. He has struggled to win over female voters. Photo: Clauber Cleber Caetano/PR

In the first poll since President Jair Bolsonaro gathered throngs of supporters in Independence Day rallies in Brasília, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, the distance between him and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the election’s frontrunner, has slightly narrowed. According to Datafolha, Lula maintained his 45 percent of voting intentions, while Mr. Bolsonaro saw a bump from 32 up to 34 percent.

The incumbent has slowly but steadily improved his polling numbers, but Lula could still pull off a first-round landslide victory. In Brazil, if no candidate gets an absolute majority of votes, then the two best-voted candidates face each other in a runoff. 

Lula has been stable in the mid-40s range, and his current 45 percent repeats last week’s reading. All other candidates combine for 46 percent of voting intentions. Considering the polls’ margins of error, a scenario in which Lula clinches the race in the October 2 first round remains possible.

Mr. Bolsonaro has gained 7 points since May of this year. But it is difficult to tell how much his recent moves to generate economic stimuli for lower-income voters have helped him. Many pundits argue that his rise was predictable after his former Justice Minister Sergio Moro dropped out of the race in April. 

Mr. Moro, who fought Mr. Bolsonaro for the preference of conservative voters, was polling at 8 percent — against the president’s 26 percent.

Another issue working against Mr. Bolsonaro is that his popularity curve has stopped climbing — 31 percent of voters rated his administration as good or great, the same as last week. Meanwhile, those who rate the government as bad or terrible oscillated from 41 to 42 percent.

Mr. Bolsonaro has struggled mainly among female voters, polling 17 points behind Lula. Despite the need to cater to female voters, during his September 7 rallies, Mr. Bolsonaro invited voters to compare First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro to the wives of other candidates, and incited the crowd to chant “imbrochável,” a slightly vulgar term to indicate he can hold an erection.

As of recently, Lula has begun soliciting support from voters who have shown a preference for center-left candidate Ciro Gomes (7 percent) and center-right Senator Simone Tebet (5 percent). This week, he said his coalition is “a whisker away” from winning the whole thing in the first round.

Over half of Mr. Gomes’s and Ms. Tebet’s voters say they could change their vote between now and Election Day. Whether they change their minds or stick with their candidate will determine whether Brazilians will have to hit the polls again on October 30 to choose their president for the next four years.