Brazil’s latest public opinion poll taken by the Sensus Institute, sponsored by the National Transportation Confederation (CNT), known as the CNT/Sensus poll, shows the ruling PT (Workers Party) candidate, Dilma Rousseff, with 55.3% of the votes.
As that is more than the combined total of all other candidates (who have 44%), if these numbers are reflected in the real election she will be elected on October 3, without a need for a runoff election on October 31.
Dilma, an economist/technocrat who has never run for elective office before, was handpicked by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to be his successor. She became the minister of Mines and Energy when Lula took office in 2003, having served in similar posts in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. In 2005, she became Lula’s Chief of Staff.
According to the president of the CNT, Clésio Andrade, “It looks like Dilma will win without a runoff if the tendencies the latest poll found continue. She has the advantage of the popularity of the Lula government, the positive results of economic and social programs, which have been transferred to her by the voters although she was largely unknown a few months ago.
“She has been effectively presented as Lula’s right-hand, a person responsible for much of the progress made by the government. The poll results show that the voters want continuity.”
The poll tendencies mentioned by Andrade, besides the strong transfer of Lula’s popularity and approval ratings to Dilma, also include the rejection factor. The candidate with the highest rejection rating is Marina Silva (the Green Party) at 47.9%. José Serra, the opposition PSDB candidate, has 40.7%, and Dilma is third with 28.9%.
Andrade points out that the tide in favor of Dilma started to turn at the beginning of August when voters began identifying Dilma as Lula’s candidate and has been strongly reinforced since by the free campaign commercials on radio and TV. Not really free, as the government will shell out 890 million reais (US$ 502 million) to radio and TV stations for 200 minutes each day (100 on radio and 100 on TV) that they are required by law to broadcast.
The CNT/Sensus poll shows that Dilma leads in four of the five regions of Brazil. Serra is ahead only in the South (the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná), where he has 47.8%, and Dilma 35.7%.
In the North and Central West, Dilma has 45%, Serra 22.5%, Marina 7.6%, with undecided 20.5%. In the Northeast, Dilma has 62.1%, Serra 19.8% and Marina 6.4%., undecided 11.1%.
In the Southeast, Dilma has come from behind to lead with 39.2%, Serra 27.6% and Marina 9.7%, undecided 21.8%.
The CNT/Sensus poll interviewed 2,000 people in 136 municipalities in 24 states between August 20 and 22. The poll has a margin of error of give or take 2.2 percentage points.
In the spontaneous vote, Dilma got 37.2% and Serra 21.2% – a difference of 16 percentage points. In the simulated vote, Dilma got 46% and Serra 28.1%. In a runoff, Dilma would win with 52.9%, compared to 34% for Serra.
A curious footnote to this election is that president Lula, although he is not running, continues to pick up around 5% of the votes in many of the CNT/Sensus polls.