Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s campaign got a fresh boost from a poll that showed the leftist leader inching closer to a first-round win in Brazil’s presidential election this weekend.
Front-runner Lula ticked upward, now claiming 48 percent of valid votes in the first round from 47 percent a week ago, according to a survey by FSB Pesquisa released on Monday. Incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro was unchanged at 37 percent.
If a candidate doesn’t take more than 50 percent of the ballot on October 2 after removing both null and blank votes, the race will go to a run-off on October 30.
Lula’s advance fell within the poll’s two percentage-point margin of error, but recent surveys indicate former head of state gaining steam. Only about two percent of voters have yet to pick a candidate, though FSB Pesquisa found some 20 million could switch their preference last-minute.
“The number of voters who are still willing to change their voting decision in this final stretch is enough to change the outlook, which today points to a second round,” Marcelo Tokarski, director of the polling firm, wrote in a statement.
Candidates other the current and former president hold 14 percent of voter preference combined in the first-round, the poll found.
After sitting out the most recent televised debate, Lula spent Sunday stumping through Rio de Janeiro, the nation’s second largest city and a base of support for Bolsonaro, as part of a final push to peel votes away from the incumbent.
But Andrei Roman, the head of AtlasIntel, cautions that support for Lula, 76, may have peaked. The pollster also placed the former president garnering around 48 percent of support in the first round, according to its latest public survey released last week.
Support for third- and fourth-placed candidates, Ciro Gomes and Simone Tebet, is “collapsing,” Roman said in an interview. “What we are seeing is angst around Lula winning in the first round.”
Gomes, a left-wing former governor, has made nods to conservative voters, and more of his backers are now migrating to Bolsonaro, Roman said. While not a majority, “there is a sizable share that is opposed to Lula.”
Even so, Atlas has doubled the odds that Lula wins in the first round, raising chances to 30 percent from 15 percent from a month ago.
Analysts are closely watching how Brazilians will react to the final presidential televised debate slated for Thursday evening. Both Bolsonaro, 67, and Lula have said they will attend.
The FSB poll, commissioned by investment bank BTG Pactual, interviewed 2,000 Brazilians between September 23 and 25.
by Andrew Rosati, Bloomberg