President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) has recovered from a hit on social media at the beginning of the year and, this June, he once again led the IPD (Digital Popularity Index), a ranking produced by consulting firm Quaest.
In addition to maintaining the advantage over competitors for the 2022 election, Bolsonaro departed from former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT), who even threatened him in the lead as soon as he was rehabilitated for the election in March past.
By reconciling political agenda and repercussions on the internet, Bolsonaro once again assumed a prominent position in the field of networks, an area in which he is comfortable and in which he works with aplomb.
Last Tuesday (8), the president scored 73.17 points on the IPD against 46.92 for Lula. Bolsonaro and the PT were practically tied a week earlier, but the former president has had a sharp fall since then.
In the second echelon are Luciano Huck (no party) with 33.44; Ciro Gomes (PDT) with 25.13; João Amoêdo (New) with 24.63; Luiz Henrique Mandetta (DEM) with 20.99; and João Doria (PSDB) with 18.53.
Political scientist Felipe Nunes, director of Quaest and professor at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais), says that the result points to Bolsonaro’s electoral strength for 2022 and should trigger a warning to opponents.
As the IPD isolates — as much as possible — the effect of using robots on networks, the rise in the president’s popularity is expressed by individuals, that is, what is measured by the platform is the non-automated digital behavior.
“Bolsonaro remains a very strong candidate, having an asset that is social media. The others have to go after it and have the opportunity to do so until the elections”, says the analyst.
The IPD continues to show the polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro, but Nunes does not rule out the so-called third way in 2022. “The space is in place, but for it to be electorally viable, there will have to be political coordination that reduces fragmentation in this field.”
The IPD metric assesses the performance of national political figures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia and Google platforms. Performance is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, where the highest value represents the maximum popularity.
Six dimensions are monitored in the networks: fame (number of followers), engagement (comments and likes per post), mobilization (sharing posts), valence (positive and negative reactions to posts), presence (number of social networks in which the person is active) and interest (volume of searches on Google, YouTube and Wikipedia).
Since mid-January, Bolsonaro had been on a downward trend amid the worsening pandemic, the lack of oxygen crisis in Manaus and the economic consequences, including higher food prices.
The return of the emergency aid payment, on April 6, was crucial for the president’s popularity to rise and start to vary around 70 points, as shown in the graph. That’s because, with the measure, criticism of Bolsonaro on the internet decreased, which increased its valence.
Between May 10th and May 12th, Bolsonaro reached a peak of popularity with 83.38 points. Nunes attributes the good result to the strategy to foster engagement in networks with political commitments, as in the demonstration with motorcyclers in Brasília, on May 9, which yielded photos, videos and another speech about “my Army” for pocket members to share.
The UFMG professor says that Bolsonaro “thinks the political agenda within the logic of digital communication”. “The motorcycle tour in Brasília works as a lever for this popularity. He makes an agenda that generates engagement and mobilization, creates a feeling of strength and grandeur”, he adds.
On the occasion, Bolsonaro has already announced new tours in Rio, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. In fact, on May 23, the tactic was replicated in the capital of Rio de Janeiro after the good result in the networks. The model was the same – one of crowding with supporters without the use of a mask.
During this period, there was also an act in favor of Bolsonaro on May 1st and a demonstration with ruralists, in Brasília, on May 15th – demonstrations of support in the streets that fed the networks.
The rise in Bolsonaro’s IPD in May, seen between the 5th and 12th of that month, happened despite the hit of popularity with the death by Covid-19 of actor Paulo Gustavo, on May 4, which shook the country. Then, on the 6th, the death of 29 people in a police operation in Jacarezinho, Rio, became a national issue.
On the same day, the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, gave his first testimony to Covid’s CPI in the Senate, an episode that ended up having a positive effect for Bolsonaro.
as showed the leaf, the CPI boosted the digital popularity of opposition senators and dropped deponents aligned with the federal government on the networks. For Bolsonaro’s IPD, however, the commission has no influence.
Nunes comments that the death of Paulo Gustavo was the most negative event for Bolsonaro in the last period, but the positive engagement ended up overcoming the wear and tear and criticism.
“The IPD shows that favorable public manifestations built to a large extent by the president himself give a positive balance,” he says.
In June, Bolsonaro had another high, driven by the positive result of the GDP, of 1.2% growth in the first quarter, and by the president’s statement on national television, precisely commenting on advances in the economy.
Bolsonaro, who has led the IPD since the monitoring was created in January 2019, came to be behind Lula for nine days as of March 8, when Minister Edson Fachin, of the STF (Federal Supreme Court), annulled the PT’s convictions in Operation Lava Jato.
After that, Lula returned to catch up with Bolsonaro in early April and late May, but without taking the lead.
The PT was leveraged in specific moments, such as in interviews, in his tour of Brasília, in the photo with former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB), in the opposition protest on May 29 and in the dissemination of the Datafolha poll, in which he leads the dispute for the Plateau.
According to Nunes, the PT’s popularity is not sustainable and is subject to sudden drops, as seen in early June, due to the mismatch between political and digital strategy. “Although the policy brings results, the lack of a digital strategy makes Lula’s IPD unstable”, he says.
“Lula is focused on political contacts and is not making street agendas, even to oppose Bolsonaro and because of the pandemic. He’s prioritizing the political agenda and not the communication one, so he doesn’t have a strategy around him to increase fame, engagement, mobilization.”
Among the other presidential candidates, Amoêdo was discharged in June, following his announcement as a pre-candidate for the presidency by Novo last week — this Thursday (10), faced with an internal crisis in the party, he decided to decline the candidacy. Mandetta, who was in the lantern, rose with the CPI from April.
Ciro and Doria have invested in winning the networks. The first hired marketer João Santana and has been promoting videos in which he seeks to appear more smiling and understandable to voters.
Doria began responding to attacks on the networks with jokes, publicizing openings and consolidating a more informal style. In June, it achieved a slight improvement in the IPD by announcing the vaccination schedule for all adults until October.
Third in the IPD, presenter Luciano Huck accumulates the fame achieved on TV Globo, but is treated as a card practically out of the deck by his opponents.