Power

Why did Brazilian polls get the election so wrong?

President Jair Bolsonaro outperformed the expectations of all major pollsters. On Sunday, he said he "beat the lie"

polss President Jair Bolsonaro outperformed the expectations of all major pollsters. On Sunday, he said he "beat the lie."
Street vendors used scoreboards to track sales of towels bearing the faces of Jair Bolsonaro and Lula. The boards went viral on social media as an “alternative” way of polling voters, and boosted sales. Photo: Julia Laüer/TBR

The question laid down by the polls in the lead-up to Brazil’s Sunday election was: can former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva manage to win the presidency outright? But when votes started being counted, the results showed a very different picture. 

On the eve of Election Day, readings from the most renowned institutes in the country, Datafolha and Ipec, predicted a 14-point gap separating Lula from President Jair Bolsonaro. In the end, Lula got a lead of just five points. 

For some of the most closely-watched gubernatorial races, the miscalculations were even more significant. 

In Bahia, Datafolha had...

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