Brazil Poised for Left-Right Split in Election, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s presidential race is becoming increasingly polarized between a far-right former army captain and a leftist onetime mayor of Sao Paulo, a survey by polling firm Ibope showed.

Fernando Haddad, who replaced former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as the Workers’ Party candidate, has 19 percent of vote intentions, up 11 percentage points since the last Ibope poll Sept. 11. Former paratrooper Jair Bolsonaro, still hospitalized as he recovers from an apparent assassination attempt this month, leads the field with 28 percent, up 2 percentage points. If no candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote Oct. 7, there will be a second-round run-off Oct 28.

“The Ibope poll shows a divided nation and the center’s melting,” said Lucas Aragao, a partner at the Brasilia-based political consulting firm Arko Advice. Bolsonaro seems to have a slight advantage over Haddad in a potential runoff but that could be easily reversed, he added. “It’s a coin toss.”

Left-wing candidate Ciro Gomes has stagnated on 11 percent. Both former Environment Minister Marina Silva and the market-favorite candidate, Geraldo Alckmin, saw their numbers slump to 7 percent and 6 percent respectively. In a press conference on Wednesday in Sao Paulo, Alckmin insisted that the race was still wide open and predicted Bolsonaro’s support has peaked.

In the runoff scenario tested by Ibope, Bolsonaro and Haddad were technically tied at 40 percent. The ex-army captain was also tied with Gomes and Alckmin, but would beat Silva. Bolsonaro’s rejection rating remains the highest of all the candidates, at 42 percent, followed by Haddad on 29 percent.

The poll was commissioned newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, based on interviews with 2,506 Brazilians between Sept. 16-18. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. The poll -- designated BR-09678/2018 -- was registered with the Superior Electoral Court on Sept. 12.

The poll showed that with just under three weeks to go, voters are starting to make up their minds. There was a significant decline in the number of those planning to annul their vote or leave it blank, down from 19 percent to 14 percent. Undecideds remained at 7 percent percent.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.