The most interesting presidential poll won't be published soon

Chilean political scientist Carlos Meléndez, from the Diego Portales University, has hired polling institute Ipsos to include some questions of academic interest in a recent presidential poll carried out by the institute. Mr. Meléndez’s questions, as a matter of fact, could be the most revealing ones about Brazilian politics of the current moment. This is because he seeks to evaluate the attitudes of voters’ about politics in general – instead of focusing only on the presidential race.

The results, however, will not be published right away. Instead, they will be compiled and processed by the professor himself. It is hard to forecast how much time that will take – and when, if at all, he will choose to publish the data.

In November, Mr. Meléndez published an interesting study about the role of political identities as the missing link in the study of populism. Here is the abstract of his work:

</span></p> <blockquote><p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Political identities are crucial for understanding electoral behavior: individuals who identify with a political party behave as loyal supporters who would hardly vote for competitors old or new. </span></i></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although this is an obvious observation, it has received little attention in the study of populism—a set of ideas that not only portrays established political parties as corrupt and self-serving entities but also depicts “the people” as a homogenous and virtuous community that should run the government. In this contribution, we develop a novel theory that claims that populism can thrive only when an anti-establishment political identity exists. </span></i></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">This identity denotes an emotional and rational repulsion toward all established political parties in a given country. We test our theory by analyzing original survey data from contemporary Chile. The empirical analysis reveals not only that a limited segment of the electorate holds an anti-establishment political identity coalesced by populism but also that there is a large segment of apartisans adverse to populism. </span></i></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">These empirical findings have important consequences for the study of populism, particularly when it comes to analyzing its emergence and electoral potential.</span></i></p></blockquote> <h2>What his research says about partisan behavior</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Mr. Meléndez&#8217;s research, in Chile there is a prevalence of &#8220;negative partisanship&#8221; and &#8220;apartisanship,&#8221; but not &#8220;anti-establishment partisanship.&#8221; People with no partisan identity whatsoever (38.6 percent) are more numerous than those who are against everything (12.9 percent), even if both groups are not fond of the center-left Nueva Mayoría party or the center-right Alianza party.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The professor tests the electoral potential of &#8220;neither-nor&#8221; voters. According to his theory, populism can only thrive when the anti-establishment identity prevails within a population. And that is not the case in Chile, according to his study. As a matter of fact, &#8220;neither-nor&#8221; voters act as a buffer to protect society from populists.</span></p> <h2>Do those voters act the same way in Brazil?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That&#8217;s what Mr. Meléndez is trying to find out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the public record at the Superior Electoral Court (during <a href="">election years</a>, polling institutes must register their polls at the Electoral Justice system if they ever want their findings to be published &#8211; otherwise the institutes will be breaking the law), 1,400 people of 16 years old or more, living both in rural and urban areas, were interviewed. Like in any other presidential poll, voters were asked about their socio-demographic characteristics, their preferences, and partisan rejections.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides that, the poll asked the same questions that were present in Mr. Meléndez&#8217;s previous study in Chile. But instead of testing Nueva Mayoría and Alianza, in Brazil he tests President Michel Temer&#8217;s Brazilian Democratic Movement party and the two groups that have polarized presidential elections since 1994: the Workers&#8217; Party and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">(The image below presents the results verified in Chile. These are the averages of answers that range from &#8220;Strongly disagree&#8221; to &#8220;Strongly agree&#8221; in relation to a given statement. A score of 3 and above indicates some agreement with the statement.)</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-7580 aligncenter" src="" alt="presidential poll ipsos brazil 2018 election bolsonaro lula" width="344" height="520" srcset=" 344w, 198w" sizes="(max-width: 344px) 100vw, 344px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The questions in Brazil (shown below) are:</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let&#8217;s assume that the elections were today. Would you vote for a [PARTY] candidate for Congress/Governor/City Council?</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The poll also asks people about their feelings toward former President Lula (the <a href="">most polarizing political figure</a> in the country), their reading habits, their political engagement (or lack thereof), and voting habits.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We at </span><b>The Brazilian Report</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are curious to read the results, as it could show us much more about our electorate&#8217;s behavior than any regular presidential poll.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-7581" src="" alt="presidential poll ipsos brazil 2018 election bolsonaro lula" width="744" height="528" srcset=" 744w, 300w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 744px) 100vw, 744px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-7582" src="" alt="presidential poll ipsos brazil 2018 election bolsonaro lula" width="747" height="391" srcset=" 747w, 300w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 747px) 100vw, 747px" />

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PowerAug 18, 2018

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BY Marcelo Soares

Marcelo Soares is a Brazilian journalist specializing in data journalism and reader engagement.