Brazil polls facing Bolsonaro backlash after election miss

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazilian polling companies have been facing threats of a crackdown after their surveys for the election’s first round significantly understated the support for the president and his allies.

President Jair Bolsonaro’s Justice Ministry called for a Federal Police investigation and the antitrust regulator on Thursday launched a probe into whether pollsters formed a cartel to manipulate election results. Allies in Congress are pushing separate initiatives, one of which would establish prison sentences for polls failing to accurately predict results.


Multiple analysts consulted by The Associated Press – even those who said polls have room to improve – slammed these efforts.

“The main goal is not to improve electoral polls, but to persecute and punish institutes,” said Alberto Almeida, who leads political research institute Brasilis. “There were mistakes, but voting on a bill, doing a congressional investigation — that is an embarrassment. Wanting to criminalize is senseless.”

Before the Oct. 2 vote, many polls had indicated that Bolsonaro was far behind. Some suggested leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could even clinch a first-round victory. Most showed a margin that neared or exceeded double digits.

Instead, Bolsonaro came within five points of da Silva and the two will compete in an Oct. 30 runoff. Bolsonaro’s right-wing allies in congressional and gubernatorial races also did better than polls indicated.

Throughout the campaign, Bolsonaro and his backers had scoffed at pollsters’ findings, pointing instead to the president’s packed rallies. Those, they said, represented his true support.

After the vote, they seized on results as proof. And a flurry of attacks followed.

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