A new poll ahead of Brazil's presidential election in October shows the country's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with a significant lead over right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, but the latter appears to be catching up fast.
Forty-seven percent of those surveyed by the consulting firm Datafolha said they planned to vote for Lula, the 76-year-old leftist leader, in the first round of elections scheduled for October 2.
Lula's 15-point lead over Bolsonaro (32 percent), according to pundits, is an indication that he could ultimately receive over 50 percent of votes in the first round, avoiding a runoff against his 67-year-old opponent.
If the vote advances to a second round, on October 30, the poll shows Lula prevailing over Bolsonaro with 54 percent of the vote.
Last month, the gap between the two contenders vying for the coveted chair was 18 points but marks a significant jump from the 21-point gap in May.
The two candidates, pitted against each other in the toughest election race in decades, have the best chance of winning over their third-party challenger - although the center-left Ciro Gomez polled seven percent, according to reports.
Although the two main challengers have been campaigning for months, the official launch of their race was on Tuesday.
Bolsonaro's first election campaign took place in Juiz de Fora, where he was stabbed in 2018, while former union leader Lula chose a car factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo as his symbolic backdrop.
Datafolha said it interviewed 5,744 people in 281 Brazilian cities between last Tuesday and Thursday, and the results had a margin of error of 2 percentage points
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, with leftist tendencies and ideas, served as the president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011, and his social base of votes is mostly the lower classes and low-income people.
Bolsonaro’s backers frequently cite da Silva’s 580 days of imprisonment after he was found guilty of corruption and money laundering.
The former president, however, still sustains his legacy of revolutionizing the Brazilian economy during his 2003-2010 presidency.
Da Silva is also leading all polls in a sign of the country’s weariness of Bolsonaro’s sheer populism, which has earned him a reputation as “the tropical Trump.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly characterized the race as a battle of good versus evil and has asked his supporters to swear they would “give their lives” for freedom.
His backers surrounded da Silva’s car to hurl verbal abuse earlier this year and, in July, one of them killed a local official of da Silva’s Workers’ Party in the border city Foz de Iguaçu.