When far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro got stabbed on September 6, many analysts predicted that the attack would improve his electoral stock. Brazilian voters, after all, love an underdog. While Mr. Bolsonaro has placed himself as anything but an underdog, being the victim of an assassination attempt could curb his rejection rates and earn him the sympathy of voters, many said.
Well, that’s not what the latest opinion poll by Datafolha, Brazil’s most prestigious polling institute, has shown. While the far-right candidate has indeed consolidated his lead in Brazil’s presidential race, center-left candidates experienced the biggest growth from the previous poll, on August 22.
This poll is the first released by a major pollster since the stabbing of Mr. Bolsonaro during a campaign rally in the state of Minas Gerais on September 6. It is also Datafolha’s first published survey since Brazil’s top electoral court barred the candidacy of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Datafolha had conducted a poll on August 31 which included Lula, but decided to cancel its publication after the former president saw his candidacy barred that very evening.
While Mr. Bolsonaro grew outside of the margin of error, his rejection continues on an upward trend. The more exposure the former Army captain gets, the more voters say they would never choose his name on election day. And since the stabbing, you can’t escape Mr. Bolsonaro on the news.
Who will face the far-right in the runoff stage?
Behind Mr. Bolsonaro, four candidates are battling tooth and nail in the race for second place. The poll’s big winners both came from the center-left. Democratic Labor Party candidate Ciro Gomes saw his voting intentions jump to 13 percent; Fernando Haddad, the soon-to-be Workers’ Party candidate in the place of former president Lula, doubled his numbers, rising from 4 to 9 percent.
The sharpest drop of this Datafolha poll belongs to centrist former environment minister Marina Silva. Appearing clear in second place with 16 percent in the institute’s last survey, on August 22, Ms. Silva has now fallen to 11 percent, making her second-round hopes look slim. On July 3, The Brazilian Report published an analysis on why Ms. Silva was bound to lose ground in the race – despite the fact that, at the time, she had solid poll numbers.
Geraldo Alckmin, candidate for the center-right Social Democracy Party, remained stable, rising only 1 percentage point to 10 percent. His strategy of luring voters of Mr. Bolsonaro over to his camp could have something to do with the far-right candidate’s increasing rejection rate, but has yet to bear any fruit to Mr. Alckmin himself.
In the spontaneous voting scenario, where respondents are not presented with a list of candidates and must declare their vote off the top of their head, Mr. Bolsonaro and Mr. Gomes saw significant increases. The former rose from 15 to 20 percent, while Mr. Gomes more than doubled his figures, going from 2 to 5 percent. This scenario usually shows whose voting bases are the most consolidated.
Runoff stage scenarios
While comfortably in the lead for the first round of voting, Mr. Bolsonaro has a less-than-favorable scenario for the second-round runoff stage. Datafolha’s poll has the far-right candidate losing against all potential competitors, with the exception of Fernando Haddad, with whom he is currently statistically tied.
The Datafolha poll was conducted on September 10 by way of face-to-face interviews with 2,804 people in 197 municipalities across Brazil. The maximum margin of error is 2 percent.
Hours before the results were published, Brazil’s other leading pollster Ibope released figures from its own survey including only voters from São Paulo, the country’s most populous state. Ibope’s numbers showed Mr. Bolsonaro’s voting intentions increasing by only 1 percentage point, and signaled improvements for Geraldo Alckmin, Ciro Gomes, and Fernando Haddad, trends largely borne out by Datafolha’s poll. Ibope will publish results from its own nationwide poll tomorrow evening.