The Brazilian presidential elections are shaping up to be a kind of definitive battle between the new right, represented by the current president Jair Bolsonaro, and the left against which he has become strong in recent years. And, for now, this one is winning: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has a lead of about ten points, one week before the vote on October 2, according to the average of polls conducted by EL PAÍS. Now, to win in the first round, the former president would need the majority of the 7% that the undecided and abstentionists that still remain among likely voters fall on his side. He needs them to complete the slightly more than five points that separate him from the threshold of half plus one of valid votes necessary to avoid a second round on October 30.
The distance between the favorites has remained more or less stable since the beginning of May, when Lula made an official candidacy that had been unofficial for many months before. The ups and downs around those ten points of reference advantage seem to be due more to circumstantial issues whose final effect at the polls will be uncertain.
For now, none of the most recent polls nor of the many existing averages that accompany the exercise carried out by EL PAÍS anticipate an advantage of more than 15 points, nor a clear victory in the first round. Only one of them places the leftist at 50%, but not even this one clarifies if it is about half plus one of the valid votes essential, according to the Brazilian Constitution, to reach the Presidency in the first round. Lula is working these days to encourage his faithful to mobilize to combat abstention.
The ins and outs of the race have also played a role, as voters have been forced to search for new candidates. The withdrawal in the middle of the pre-campaign of the former judge and former Minister of Justice of Bolsonaro, Sergio Moro, and the former governor of São Paulo João Doria (from the center-right PSDB) have coincided with increases for the far-right president. Just as these moves did not seem to have any effect on Lula’s voter base, neither has the (in any case modest) rise in the polls of the centrist Simone Tebet. Ahead of her, Ciro Gomes, from the center left, but who is also seeking votes in the right closest to Bolsonaro. Lula’s base seems, in short, notably less volatile than that of the current president.
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For this reason, the attention in the polls has turned in recent days towards the chances of a victory in the first round. The uncertainty about Bolsonaro’s acceptance of an eventual defeat, which he himself has fueled by clinging to the fact that he will accept a result if the elections are clean and transparent, as if they were not, reinforce the usefulness for Lula of an incontestable victory.
The comparison between the two favorite candidates also helps to observe the variation in estimates for each one. For both Lula and Bolsonaro, there are no more than 6-8 points of fork between the best and the worst estimate, differences small enough so that the highest for the right does not overlap with the lowest for the left. left. With the rest of the candidates who obtain some significant support, the intervals are even smaller. And in any case, a not insignificant part of these differences is due more to different criteria of pollsters and estimators in the inclusion or not of undecided in the calculation base than to other reasons of greater substance. Something that in any case does not seem definitive to declare victories or surprises: if the average of EL PAÍS excluded them, Lula’s estimate would go from 44.9% to 48.2%, and Bolsonaro’s would remain at 37.1%. A gap of 11 points instead of 10, and none above half plus one.
Therefore, except for errors that go through all the polling houses in Brazil in one of the elections that has generated the most attention inside and abroad, Lula will be ahead of Bolsonaro on Sunday the 2nd.
Now, until then, there is still a week left for acceleration of the two reference candidates and unexpected last-minute events in a campaign that has been shaken by several episodes of violence, including the murder of two Lula supporters at the hands of Bolsonarists in two incidents. independents as well as harassment and threats to other candidates and supporters.
Thus, two alternative scenarios are possible, but not with the same probability in light of the tendencies found in them: an extension of Lula’s advantage seems somewhat more plausible than a reduction of Bolsonaro. But in the strength of the vote coordination that facilitates polarization, both worlds fit more than enough.
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