The survey by IPEC showed Lula with 44 percent of voter support against 32 percent for Bolsonaro in the first round of the election schedule for 2 October.
Lula was a founding member of the Workers’ Party, and was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. Bolsonaro initially announced his run for president in 2016 for the Social Christian Party, then joined and ran for the election as a member of the conservative Social Liberal Party, he was elected in 2018, then formed the Alliance for Brazil Party, and is running for reelection as a member of the Liberal Party.
In an expected run-off between the two men on 30 October, should no candidate win 50 percent plus one of the valid votes, Lula would get elected by 51 percent of the votes versus 35 percent for Bolsonaro – a 16-point gap, the poll showed.
That advantage for the leftist former president was mirrored by other polls, which showed Brazil’s most polarized presidential race in decades narrowing in recent weeks.
Lula’s lead fell from 26 percent in December to 18 percent in July, according to Datafolha, another major polling firm, but the leftist leader still had a 20 percent lead over Bolsonaro if the two men were to face off in a run-off.
Bolsonaro increased spending on welfare for poor Brazilians, which may have improved his numbers. He also pressed state-controlled oil company Petrobras to lower the price of fuel, which had been a big factor in pushing up inflation.
Pollster Quaest, in telephone surveys, found Bolsonaro now statistically tied with Lula in Sao Paulo, the country’s largest electoral college, and he had narrowed his rival’s lead in Minas Gerais, the state with second largest number of voters.
But another poll commissioned by investment bank BTG released on Monday said Bolsonaro had lost ground again and dropped 4 percent compared to his rival who was leading by 11 points. Lula’s advantage also grew for an expected run-off to 15 points from 12 in the previous BTG/FSB poll.
The IPEC poll said Bolsonaro’s approval rating was at 29 percent, compared to just 19 percent in December, while the number of voters who saw his government as bad or terrible has dropped to 43 percent from 55 percent in the previous survey.
Still, 57 percent of Brazilians disapproved of the way Bolsonaro, a former army captain and right-wing firebrand, governed the country, while only 37 percent approved, according to IPEC.
It was IPEC’s first national poll of voter intentions and interviewed 2000 people in person between 12 and 14 August. The poll had a margin of error of 2 percent up or down.