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Lula and Bolsonaro head to runoff

Former Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva, who ruled Brazil between 200 and 2010, won today’s first round election against incumbent far-right President Jair Bolsonaro — but Lula didn’t obtain the margin he had hoped for and the race will go to a runoff .

With over 95 percent of votes tallied, Lula had 47.66 percent of the vote. He needed to clear the 50-percent mark to avoid a runoff. Despite historical rejection rates for a president seeking re-election, Mr. Bolsonaro qualified for the runoff, posting a very competitive 43.86 percent.

It is abundantly clear that major pollsters vastly underestimated Mr. Bolsonaro’s support. The last surveys before the vote had Lula winning just over 50 percent, while the incumbent was tipped to receive a total in the mid-30 percent range.

Lula’s campaign sought to convince voters that he would be able to replicate the economic success Brazil experienced during his time in office, when the country benefited from a commodity super-cycle.

During the Lula years, the median wealth per adult in Brazil rose by six times. Twelve years, two recessions, and a pandemic later, that wealth has been cut in half.

Brazilians will now vote again in a runoff between Lula and President Bolsonaro set for October 30. Lula remains the favorite, but the country is set for a nailbiter, especially considering the discrepancy between polls and Mr. Bolsonaro’s vote count.

While the sample size is small, the best-voted presidential candidate in the first round has never lost in the second. Still, requiring a runoff is a disappointment to Lula and his supporters of him – for whom a first-round landslide seemed close to materializing.

On the eve of the vote, polls from Brazil’s two most renowned pollsters, Datafolha and Ipec, had Lula with 50 and 51 percent of voting intentions respectively.

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