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Lula makes slight gains ahead of runoff, say two new polls

Atlas Intel and Datafolha published new readings of the presidential election on Thursday. Both showed a slight increase in voting intentions for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. And although the gains are within the margins of error, the numbers are certainly good news for the former president, who had seen his lead from him to President Jair Bolsonaro shrink since the October 2 first round.

Per Atlas Intel, Lula’s lead went from 53-47 to 53.2-46.8. Datafolha’s poll has Lula ahead with a 53-47 gap.

Although the results show a largely stable outlook to the race, they suggest the positive trend for Mr. Bolsonaro may have reversed (polls on the eve of Election Day may confirm if that is a trend or a blip).

One piece of data, however, may be ominous for the incumbent president: his rejection rates have climbed in Atlas Intel’s past two readings. In recent weeks, Mr. Bolsonaro had managed to lower his rejection of him — thanks, according to experts, to a strategy of increasing social policies. Since the October 2 first round, it has announced eight new initiatives granting or increasing social benefits.

But over the past week, the president’s camp has seen itself in unfamiliar territory — on the ropes after a staunch ally of Mr. Bolsonaro resisted arrest and shot at Federal Police marshals with a military-grade rifle and threw two grenades.

Perhaps even more detrimental to the president’s re-election effort was a report that Economy Minister Paulo Guedes is keen on removing the minimum wage peg to inflation. The Workers’ Party campaign forced the issue in the media, stressing that removing the inflation peg would put low-income voters at great risk of losing purchasing power.

In the first round, polls vastly underestimated the president’s electoral strength (although runoff polls tend to be more accurate given the reduced number of candidates). His supporters of him will hope pollsters are making the same mistake now.

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