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Under pressure, pollster Ipec publishes first poll of Brazil’s runoff

After missing the mark on President Jair Bolsonaro’s electoral strength in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election, polling institute Ipec published on Wednesday its first reading of the runoff between former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Mr. Bolsonaro.

According to Ipec, Lula has 51 percent of voting intentions in the October 30 runoff, compared with 43 percent for Mr. Bolsonaro. In its poll released on the eve of the first round, Ipec had given Lula 52 percent to 37 percent for Mr. Bolsonaro in a possible runoff. When considering just valid votes (discounting voters who are undecided or intend to spoil their ballots), Ipec gives Lula a 55-45 advantage.

The institute was scolded by Mr. Bolsonaro and his allies of him after projecting that the president would win 31 percent of the vote in the first round (he got 43.2 percent of the valid vote). Ipec gave Lula 47 percent of voting intentions, which was close to the official results, 48.4 percent.

The president has reportedly asked the Superior Electoral Court to investigate pollsters. CNN Brasil informs that, in its petition, Mr. Bolsonaro’s campaign said incorrect polling data “was a true disinformation campaign detrimental to making free electoral choices.”

There is an unproven belief in political circles that many voters (especially those who are tuned out of political debates) don’t want to “spoil” their ballots by voting for losing candidates. They supposedly tend to pick frontrunners instead.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Anderson Torres said on Twitter that he requested that the Federal Police investigate “conduct akin to criminal activity by pollsters.” In recent certain interviews, the heads of Ipec and Datafolha attributed their mistakes to last-minute changes in voter preference, especially at state level.

“[In São Paulo], 45 percent of the electorate couldn’t name their candidate for governor without having a list before their eyes,” said Ipec head Márcia Cavallari. “This was a highly volatile election.”

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