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Bolsonaro’s Image Gains Among Women After Re-Election Campaign Kickoff

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity grew among women, the poor and voters from Brazil’s northeast after he launched his re-election campaign hand-in-hand with his wife and announced bigger cash handouts, according to the latest poll.

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The far-right president would win 27% of female voting intentions, up from 21% in June, a Datafolha poll showed on Friday. That’s still far behind the standing of his main challenger, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who would get 46% of their votes, down from 49% previously.

Overall, Lula would capture 47% of the first-round vote on Oct. 2, while Bolsonaro would take 29%, the survey found. The numbers were statistically unchanged from June with the movement for both candidates falling within the poll’s margin of error.

Read More: Bolsonaro Starts Campaigning for Vote He Says May Be Rigged

With his macho rhetoric and embrace of traditional family values, the former army captain has long struggled to gain traction among women, who Datafolha says represent 52% of voters. But with Lula leading all major opinion polls by a large margin, Bolsonaro’s campaign officials and marketing professionals are attempting to soften his image and drum up additional support.

First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro delivered the opening speech for the incumbent’s campaign kick-off in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, pushing back on criticism that her husband is anti-woman.

“He is the president who passed the most laws in history to protect women,” she said.

What to Know About Bolsonaro-Lula Showdown in Brazil: QuickTake

In the run up to the election, Bolsonaro has backed a series of measures to ease the pain from rising cost of living, including slashing gasoline taxes and increasing cash subsidies to the poor. Those efforts may be beginning to have an electoral effect.

Among the country’s poorest, who make up 53% of those polled, positive views of the government climbed to 25% from 20%. And in the impoverished Northeast, a stronghold for Lula’s Workers’ party, they rose to 25% from 17%. DataFolha said that perceptions could continue to improve as cash handouts are distributed.

A candidate needs to win over half the votes to avoid a run off. In a second and final round, Lula would get 55% of the vote, while Bolsonaro would win 35%, the poll found.

Datafolha interviewed 2,556 Brazilians in 183 different cities on July 27 and 28. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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