On Sunday, Brazilians go to the polls to vote for their next President. Brazil has been struggling economically for quite some time and there is a lot of anger, disillusionment and hunger for change on the streets.
I have been following the election build up quite closely in recent months. It is a very interesting campaign with a former great, angry new voices and relative unknowns trying to emerge as the future leader. However, the intricacies of the Brazilian politics will be left to others with more knowledge to write about and I will focus mostly on the polling and data aspects with reference to events where it is relevant.
The far right, populist candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, has led every poll in 2018 that didn’t include Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula, the former President who is not allowed to run but who PT (his party) had hoped would be able to find a way around the Supreme Court ruling. He is the favourite ahead of Sunday’s election and is still slowly creeping upwards to reach 32% in two of the most recent polls.
His main rival appears to be Fernando Haddad of the PT party, who was initially meant to be Lula’s running mate but in the last two months has become the party’s official candidate. He is a former mayor of Sao Paulo.
When Lula officially withdrew from the race on September 12th, Haddad was languishing on around 10% in the polls in third place, also behind Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labour Party. Since then, he has climbed consistently in the polls and is now floating between 20% and 24%. This puts the gap at approximately 10%.
However, the crucial point is that if no candidate gets 50%+1 of the votes in the first round, there will be a second round run off on October 28th. While, Bolsonaro is slowly climbing, it is still highly unlikely that he will experience a large enough late surge to claim a majority.
The polls also conduct potential second round run-offs and these have been very close, either placing both candidates on the same percentage of giving a 1-2% lead to Bolsonaro.
It looks very likely that Bolsonaro will creep up a further point or two between now and voting on Sunday, while the same may be the case for Haddad.
I am quite confident that Bolsonaro will come first but will not win a majority, I am more concerned about Bolsonaro’s total and the gap between him and Haddad. As mentioned earlier, Haddad is still quote close in the second round run offs, but this can change very quickly if the Brazilian public perceive Bolsonaro to be the President in waiting.
Therefore, I think Haddad needs to finish within 10% points of Bolsonaro, while also keeping Bolsonaro’s total below 35%. In this scenario there would still be 40% of the electorate to fight for with Haddad needing to win two thirds of these to finish ahead.
I backed the incumbent but controversial Milos Zeman to win the Czech Presidential election in January earlier this year after he finished the first round on 38.6% to Jiri Drahos’ 26.6%. The next 4 candidates all supported Drahos but Zeman had enough of a lead to narrowly win the second round. The situation is slightly different here as Bolsonaro is not an incumbent and the other candidates will not all support Haddad but it is very difficult to win a second round run off if your opponent is close to 40% and you are 10% behind.
Another crucial factor will be who, if anyone, receives the endorsement of Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. He is currently polling at around 7-10%. His economic policies would be much closer to those of Bolsonaro’s but it may be hard to endorse the man given his long list of controversial statements.
So, in summary, I will be keeping an eye out on three things next Monday; Bolsonaro’s total %, his lead over Haddad and the comments of the other then eliminated candidates. I will write a follow up closer to the second round run off as well (provided there is one).