On May 16, TV presenter Luciano Huck gave an interview to journalist Pedro Bial, on Rede Globo, in which he said he was officially out of the 2022 election race.
The main reason for the withdrawal would be to maintain its contract with TV Globo, which would take over the Rio station’s main entertainment program from next year.
Interestingly, in the days following the interview, it was possible to observe reasonable agitation among journalists dedicated to covering national politics.
As an analyst of opinion polls and electoral scenarios, and motivated by the questioning of some of them on “the fate of the votes of Luciano Huck”, I think that the withdrawal of the presenter is harmless enough for the 2022 election.
What do polls say about voting intentions?
A very common mistake when reading intention to vote polls is to interpret them as a true and consolidated expression of the will of the voters.
The error is even greater if we consider the current polls, carried out at such a distance from the next election (October 2022).
It is not uncommon to find analyzes, drawn from the disclosure of poll percentages, indicating that the presidential race is polarized – between current President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) and former President Lula (PT ) -, but that there is still room for a third way, because the sum of all the other names presented to the respondent would be reasonable, 25% to 30%.
Before turning to the problems with this argument, it should be noted that the idea of “polarization” in the Brazilian electoral scene is dead wrong.
She equates an extreme right-wing candidate who calls into question day after day the institutions of the democratic rule of law – questioning the fairness of the election and signaling a possible non-acceptance of the electoral result – to a candidate of left which works in the field of democracy and respects the rules of the game.
Having said that, let’s start with the argument regarding the existence of “25-30% of voting intentions for a third-way candidate”.
If one does not remember that the stimulated scenarios (the one in which the investigator dictates the choice of names) are artificial, one ends up being convinced of this argument.
However, the spontaneous scenario, in which the respondent does not receive the choice of names of institutes, reveals that at this time, according to the Datafolha survey, 49% of people simply do not know who to vote for.
Lula is in the lead with 21%, Bolsonaro scores 17% and Ciro Gomes would have 1% of spontaneous mentions (“other candidates”, 2%; “empty / null / none”, 8%).
Thus, it seems that the main message of the current polls is the non-existence of a “third way” in the mind of the voter. Huck, for example, didn’t even score 1%.
Even if we ignore this element and start looking at artificial, i.e. stimulated scenarios, the situation does not improve either.
It is true that there is a significant part of the electorate who would not want to vote for Lula or Bolsonaro, but what must be taken into account is the variety of profiles within this segment.
Microdata analyzes of current polls show that this voter would tend to be center-right. However, there is a large gradation in the scale of political preferences related to the customs and economic agenda of this segment.
Potentially, in this same bracket there is still a voter who would be ideologically more to the left of Lula and would hardly vote for a center-right candidate.
Thus, the illusion of “25 to 30% of third-way candidates” is gradually starting to melt away.
The simplicity of the interpretations which attribute to the political class the simple decision to choose a name to represent the “third way” ignores the complexity of this challenge.
He forgets that the other side of the equation, that is to say that the electorate who does not want to vote for Lula or Bolsonaro constitutes a huge mosaic of claims and expectations about the next president and his project of country.
There will hardly be a name capable of gathering so many interests around it. The consequence will again be an electoral scenario in 2022 with several candidates, each contesting a small piece of this band.
Reconfigurations and possible future scenarios
Now we can go back to where I asserted the insignificance of Huck’s withdrawal.
The presenter of Globo does not change the current electoral scenario because he leaves no “legacy” to any other opponent, given the heterogeneity of preferences that this segment of the electorate generates.
Moreover, the supposed vote percentage for Huck (4%, according to Datafolha) was artificial, since he did not even score in the spontaneous polls.
Data from polls on voting intentions is important to guide candidates and parties. They also make it possible to identify rejections, form alliances and define campaign themes.
However, it is never a stretch to remember that there are reconfigurations in these scenarios when the nominations are officially launched and the voter will have to decide between the real names, and not in partisan or even market speculation and medias.
The Covid pandemic still dominates the concerns of Brazilians, and for good reason. At this point in the game, crediting Luciano Huck’s failed candidacy is a pipe dream.
Doctorate in Political Sciences from IESP / UERJ. Executive Director of DataIESP and UNESCO consultant for the social impact assessment of CBF’s Gol do Brasil program. Consultant in electoral and market studies.
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