On Brazil Election, Polls Missed the Mark

Jair Bolsonaro, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will go to runoff
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 3, 2022 12:00 AM CDT
On Brazil Election, Polls Got It Wrong
Followers of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, who is running for president again, react as they listen to the partial results after general election polls closed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Brazil’s presidential election provided the world yet another example of polls missing the mark, with incumbent Jair Bolsonaro considerably outperforming expectations to prove the far-right wave he rode to the presidency remains a force, the AP reports. The most-trusted opinion polls had indicated leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was far out front, and potentially even clinching a first-round victory. One prominent pre-election poll gave da Silva a 14 percentage point lead. In the end, Bolsonaro surprised to the upside and came within just 5 points. He will face da Silva in a high-stakes Oct. 30 presidential runoff.

On Sunday, da Silva, known universally as Lula, obtained 48.4% of valid votes, which excludes blank and null ballots, while Bolsonaro got 43.2%, according to Brazil’s electoral authority. The first round’s nine other candidates received a fraction of the frontrunners’ support. “This is a big defeat for the democratic center that saw its voters migrate to Bolsonaro in a polarized scenario,” said Arilton Freres, director of Curitiba-based Instituto Opinião. “Lula starts ahead, but it won’t be easy for him.” The vote was virtually free from the political violence that many had feared. Alexandre de Moraes, the Supreme Court justice who also leads the electoral authority, congratulated Brazil for the “safe, calm, harmonious and peaceful” election that demonstrated its democratic maturity.

Yet tensions remain high, as are the stakes. The election will determine whether the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps Bolsonaro in office for another term. “I understand there is a desire from the population for change, but some changes can be for the worse,” Bolsonaro told reporters after the results were released. Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the nation’s electronic voting machines are vulnerable to fraud, didn’t challenge the result. Speaking after the results, da Silva said he was excited for another few weeks of campaigning, and the opportunity to go face-to-face with Bolsonaro and “make comparisons between the Brazil he built with the Brazil we built during our administrations.”

(Read more Brazil stories.)

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