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The PT Tries a New Face

The PT Tries a New Face

With the backing of Brazil’s most popular president in history and support from the state’s publicity machine, Dilma Rousseff’s ongoing tie in opinion polls forces a shift in strategy.

Presidential opinion polls released this week continued to show the PT’s Dilma Rousseff and the PSDB’s José Serra in a ‘technical tie’, with Jose Serra at 39 points and Dilma Rousseff at 38. The results mark a continuation of May’s numbers after a brief rise in Ms. Rousseff’s polls during the month of June. The polls also reflect Ms. Rousseff’s worsening popularity with voters from the South (The PSDB’s base), and Mr. Serra’s improved polling among women. It is expected that this week’s results will prompt the Rousseff campaign to intensify its campaigning efforts in the south, beginning with the state of Paraná (the 6th largest electoral district) and continuing on to Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarina.

The numbers follow months of heightened publicity by the Rousseff campaign, including a deluge of federally-sponsored messages promoting Lula’s policies and the PT government. Today’s Folha de S.Paulo published a report showing that the federal government has so far doubled its total expenditures on advertising compared to the same period over the last three years. The government is taking advantage of a loophole in the electoral law that prohibits pre-campaign spending above the three-year average but measures total spending annually and not per quarter or semester.

The recent poll numbers have forced a shift in tactics in the Rousseff campaign after having mainly relied on associating Ms. Rousseff to Lula’s popular government. Ms. Rousseff is expected to focus more on region-specific policies (specially during her visit to Paraná) and tout her skills as an experienced manager in an attempt to compete with Mr. Serra’s main selling point. This week President Lula took to the new campaign-line, snubbing José Serra’s fresh-faced running mate Antonio Indio da Costa by asking “Who’s he?” when asked to comment on Mr. Serra’s choice of running mate. The quip prompted an immediate reply from the 39 year-old legislator via his twitter account, refuting Lula’s claim of unfamiliarity with him and boasting his legislative experience over Ms. Rousseff’s.

With campaigning having just officially begun and only a few months remaining before October’s elections expect to see increased attacks by both leading candidates and a more active role in the elections by President Lula himself.



Rodrigo Camarena

Rodrigo is an analyst and consultant on Latin American business, politics and public policy. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and New York University. Follow him on twitter @Ro_Camarena and find more articles by him by visiting: