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Lula en route to a first-round landslide, new poll finds

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The Brazilian public’s views of the presidential election remain remarkably stable, and a scenario in which President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva clinches the race already next week grows more likely. Lula has 47 percent of voting intentions, the most recent Datafolha poll finds, while his entire competition combines for 46 percent.

A week ago, Lula polled at 45 percent, with all other competitors combining for 48 percent. Jair Bolsonaro, the incumbent, stayed parked with 33 percent. The new Datafolha reading confirms findings published by Ipec on Monday, another traditional Brazilian pollster.

Per Mauro Paulino, the former Datafolha boss who is currently a television pundit, Lula’s upward trend may reflect an effort by left-wing militants to incite voters to engage in “tactical voting.”

In Brazilian elections, if no candidate tops 50 percent of the vote, then the two best-voted candidates qualify for a runoff election. Leftist politicians and sympathizers have asked centrist voters whose ultimate goal is to unseat Jair Bolsonaro to behave in the October 2 first round as if it were a Lula v. Bolsonaro dispute — given Mr. Bolsonaro’s threats not to recognize results and convulse the electoral process.

The polls, especially this close to Election Day, may have practical effects on the race, given how it changes expectations about the future. For instance, supporters of Ciro Gomes, a center-left candidate parked in the high single digits, have joined the Lula bandwagon.

On the right, there is a movement to discredit the polls as if they were rigged to deflate the president’s re-election efforts. Just this morning, House Speaker Arthur Lira tweeted that “nothing justifies polling publishing institutes massively different results.” However, all renowned Brazilian pollsters have published similar numbers.

For political scientist Beatriz Rey, the president’s entourage is “laying the groundwork to contest the October 2 results.” As we showed in today’s Brazil Daily newsletter, the military may also be part of the plan — with a project to run a separate and unofficial audit of voting machines. Unofficial because the Army has absolutely no constitutional mandate to inspect and oversee the electoral system.

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