Poll shows Lula with big lead over Bolsonaro in Brazil's presidential contest
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (AFP)

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a world-renowned leftist who lifted millions out of poverty during his tenure as Brazil's president, maintains a significant lead over the South American nation's far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro ahead of the October election, according to new survey data released Wednesday.

A Genial/Quaest poll found that 46% of voters would support Lula in a first-round vote, giving him a 16-point lead over Bolsonaro, who garnered 30%—a two-point decline since April.

Should the two candidates meet in a head-to-head runoff as expected, Lula would defeat Bolsonaro by a margin of 54% to 32%, said the polling firm, which conducted in-person interviews with 2,000 voters between June 2 and June 5.

As Reuters reported:

Other recent polls show Lula maintaining a solid lead in the first round and winning the election comfortably in the second round, by as much as 25 percentage points in the May Datafolha survey and by 10 points in the latest PoderData poll.
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The Genial/Quaest poll also showed that the negative view of Bolsonaro's government is at 47%, up from 46% in May, while the percentage of those who see the government in a positive light remained at 25%.

During a speech in São Paulo last month marking the official launch of his campaign to unseat Bolsonaro, Lula said, "Everything that we did is being destroyed by this government."

When he served as Brazil's president from 2003 to 2010, Lula—a member of the Workers' Party who began his political career in the 1970s as a metalworkers union organizer—oversaw an economic boom, which he channeled into downwardly redistributive programs that slashed inequality.

Lula enjoyed approval ratings of over 80% when he left office, and before his candidacy was derailed by a corruption conviction, he was leading the polls during the 2018 race eventually won by Bolsonaro. Lula has maintained his innocence, describing the charges that put him behind bars for 18 months as a lie fabricated by right-wing adversaries intent on carrying out a political coup.

During his three-year reign, by contrast, Bolsonaro has accelerated the destruction of the Amazon rainforest—imperiling the future of the planet—and responded so poorly to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that Brazil's Congress has accused him of crimes against humanity.

"Bolsonaro represents rock bottom in the recent history of the republic," Christian Lynch, a political scientist from Rio de Janeiro's State University, said last year when Lula signaled a potential presidential run. "And he's going to have to face the candidate who was its zenith."