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Crimson Tides | Recent Presidential Polling

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Source: Blog do Ricardo Kotscho | R7

Topic: Opinion polling

What recent developments are weighty enough to explain abrupt changes in positive evaluations of the Dilma government in the IBOPE poll?

Negative indicators are equally volatile, but the survey shows that 75% of the voting public consider the government not bad.

First of all, prior to and during the June protests, Dilma fell from a rating of 63% excellent or good to 31% excellent or good on July 12, her worst evaluation since taking office.

Now, without any fantastic new developments, Dilma rose 7 points in the poll released this Saturday, arriving at 38% excellent or good.

The numbers from IBOPE and Datafolha, the two largest and most respected market research companies in Brazil, were similar: in the Datafolha, Dilma scored 36% last week,

Leaving aside the conspiracy theory floated by some readers and analysts, that the polls are influenced by the Instituto Millenium, an omnipresent NGO that brings together the media barons of Brazil in the defense of “freedom of expression” (for themselves, of course, and not for others), what explains this volatility in the polls?

IMIL is a huge (neo)liberal think tank and “talking head” incubator founded on the model of the Atlas Toolkit or something similar — there was a time when it cooperated closely with the Cato Institute.

It is maintained in part by media companies — RBS, Estado, Abril. Senior executives of the latter two comprise the Editorial Board, or did at one time — I cannot find their listing on the site any longer. A census of IMIL-produced content made available to media organizations for reuse would be an interesting exercise.

IMIL is a member of RELIAL, a regional (neo)liberal network. Its principal project, as I said, is wholesale talking heads. A number of media oligopolies and fellow travelers are represented on the board by top executives and owners such as João Marinhol

If Montenegro of IBOPE or Paulinho of Datafolha, two professionals for whom I have the greatest respect and whose integrity I no reason to doubt could help me understand this phenomenon, I would be grateful, because I confess I cannot agree with most of the experts I have read so far.

The plunge in popularity has been attributed to the June protests, for example, as though Dilma had been the principal target of those demonstrations, with the government in a state of crisis, which is not the case.

This was a diffuse movement declaring itself  “against everything and everyone,” which attacked political parties and politicians indiscriminately. At no point did criticisms of corruption and the demand for better public services assume the form of a “down with Dilma” movement like the movement against Collor in 1992.

What was the only concrete fact addressed by the demonstrations? The reduction of fares in the public transport sector, the fundamental cause of the Free Pass Movement, which set off other protests.

Of the measures announced by the government, political reform was scheduled for the calends by the National Congress, with significant help from the allied base, and the “Mais Médicos” — more doctors — which had not even begun to operate was already provoking a massacre of criticism in the media and the medical associations.

These were obviously not developments that account for the recovery of the government’s positive image. What was it, then? The chief economic indicators varied within the margin of error (inflation, income, employment, economic growth), except for the strengthening of the dollar? None of this, in my view, directly affected the life of the citizen voter surveyed by the researchers.

In recent days, magazine and newspaper covers and the | — “talking heads” — |of the Instituto Millenium have twice celebrated the advent of a “new Brazil,” setting off fireworks and announcing that “nothing will be as it was,” after the “payola of the PT” case and the return of popular street demonstrations. But what, concretely, has changed thus far?

Just as it rains some days and others not, while the oblivious tides rise and fall, there are positive and negative moments in the life of a nation that signify neither the arrival in paradise or the end of the world. These trends alternate, and it is up to the pollsters and we journalists to paint a portrait of the present moment, reporting the facts and trying to understand what they mean.

I disagree with Marcia Cavallari, from IBOPE Inteligência, when he says that “the protests diminished in size and shifted their targets. The president is no longer a focus of protest.”

In my view, Dilma never was a focus of the protests and, just as the movement arrived suddenly on the scene and gave everyone a good fright, from one moment to the next it disappeared from the streets, limiting itself now to a few small groups with self-serving complaints and  hooligans in general .

Cavallari also says that “in recent weeks key economic indicators have improved,” but forgets to say that others worsened, as we read in the papers every day. For better or worse, nothing justifies the roller-coaster ride of public opinion of the government and the state of the nation. The index of volatilty is very high.

In my view, the mystery remains unsolved. It may be that only the next round of polls will provide answers to issues that remain up in the air, leaving me in the difficult position of not being able to understand what is happening.

In the view of my more apocalyptic colleagues, DIlma has not just recovered but is on her way to fully recovering her popularity.

But since nothing is predictable, make your own bets. If any of you can answer my questions, please send to the blog.

Diario do Centro do Mundo believes it has the answer.

The 38% approval rating of Dilma in the IBOPE poll — 7 points higher than it was in the heat of the June protests — indicates one thing.

The outcome 2014 is virtually certain.

Barring what would be one of the greatest upsets in Brazillian history, Dilma will win a second mandate. …

The protests, as their real inspiration, the Free Pass Movement, categorically state, were a call for more social policy, more inclusion, less inequality.  And fewer alliances with political chieftains such as Maluf or the rural lobby.

The demonstrations shook up the Workers Party, no doubt. But the shock emanated from the left and not the right.

PT leaders like Lula and Dilma seem to have gotten the message.

After ten years in power, the PT sees the glass half-full in terms of social advances. Brazil has reduced inequality with programs such as Bolsa Família, but the pace of reform has been frustrating precisely because of political committments to conservative politicians.

If you make an alliance of convenience with the ruralists, to take just one example, things go bad for the Indians.

This is the root of a political reform that will release the brakes that delay the transformatio of Brazil into — one can dream — a Scandinavia.

Dilma can become a great president during her second term.

But to do this, she needs to step on the gas of her motorcycle to accelerate the reforms that will place Brazil in an honorable place in the rankings of countries with social justice.

Everyone has been gossiping about a motorcycle ride that Dilma took on the Harley of a cabinet ministry. Of course, one accelerates a motorcycle using the left hand on a control mounted on the handlebars.