Jair Bolsonaro (PL) has 50% of the voting intentions of evangelicals in the latest Datafolha poll. It has fluctuated one point up since last week. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) got the same 32%.
The immobility of this picture is not gospel music to the ear of any of the campaigns. Of course, the two would like to advance in that coveted 25% of the electorate. But the news is worse for the president, who has spared no effort to attract as many faithful as possible to his electoral project.
Bolsonarism is still pulsating in the speech of many pastors of national projection. Silas Malafaia won “Happy Birthday” from the president at his birthday service. Edir Macedo continues to aim his media bazooka against the left. In an editorial by Folha Universal, his church’s newspaper, Lula appears as “disturbed and inconsolable” because the Bolsonarista crowd on September 7 had shouted “in a single chorus” that they did not want him back in power.
But plate tectonics began to move in the segment. It is a subtle movement, detected by Casa Galileia, an organization that monitors evangelical networks. There is, on the part of more extreme Christian profiles, “a certain demobilization in the final stretch of the campaign”. And also pastors lowering the intensity of the attacks on Lula.
Support for Bolsonaro has not disappeared. The contents that have the most repercussions talk about a possible attack on the president and criticize the PT rival’s decision not to go to the SBT debate, seen as a friendly house for Bolsonaristas. “The absence of a strong common agenda has drawn attention, with the exception of Malafaia and the evangelicals in dispute for candidacies who remain firm in the pro-Bolsonaro campaign”, says the report.
The change of winds is foreshadowed for the time being like a light breeze. On YouTube, where he has a channel with 1.3 million subscribers, Pastor Lucinho posted a good sample of what we’re talking about.
He pastors at the Lagoinha Baptist Church, of the influential Valadão clan, which has already welcomed Jair and Eduardo Bolsonaro into the pulpit. He’s popular among young believers, you “Jesus freaks.”
On Wednesday (21), Lucinho released a video to warn that he would bring a “a little controversial word”. What will you do if Lula wins the elections?
He made it clear that he is “frontally opposed” to the PT, “a guy completely against the principles of the Bible”. But he will pray for him if the people anoint him president, as he prayed for all presidents, including Lula himself in the past. The Scriptures, after all, command to pray for all constituted authorities.
Before him, Rodrigo Mocellin, another pastor with a high rate of engagement on social media, had already preached that, “If Lula wins, God remains God, above good and evil.” It is not about embracing the PT, but recalculating the narrative route: the ex-president can win, yes, contrary to the messianic silhouette bet on the Bolsonarista triumph.
The PT campaign, on the other hand, seems to work in a harm reduction mode, to avoid an electoral catastrophe similar to that of 2018, when 7 out of 10 faithful preferred Bolsonaro in the second round. Lula made few nods to evangelicals. He invested in some Christian messages and met with a handful of pastors in São Gonçalo (RJ), most of whom have been his longtime progressive ally.
In May, Datafolha revealed that Lula (36%) and Bolsonaro (39%) were technically tied for this Christian share. The president has extended the lead since then.
Two weeks ago, the institute registered its biggest advantage: 23 points ahead of the opponent. The gap has shrunk and is now 18 percentage points, in a survey carried out from Tuesday (20) to Thursday (22) with 6,754 people in 343 cities. The margin of error, considering only the voter of that religion, is two percentage points more or less.
That’s because Bolsonaro has never been in such high regard with evangelicals. In September 2021, he had his lowest approval rating with the group, 29%. A year later, 46% of believing voters rate their government as great and good.
It is an indication that his electoral tour of churches and events such as the Marches for Jesus has borne fruit, as well as the milder speech he has given in Christian spaces.
On the Collab podcast, conducted last week by evangelical influencers, Bolsonaro said he will “pass the belt” and “collect himself” if he loses, and also that he regretted having said he was not a gravedigger at the beginning of the pandemic, when the deaths by Covid-19 started to rise.
The version “Bolsonarinho paz e amor” was read as an attempt to soften the image of the brute, which could frighten a religious public refractory to aggressive rhetoric.
If the president is well evaluated by evangelicals and even uses his wife, a faithful Baptist church, as an asset in the campaign, why hasn’t his growth in the block progressed further?
Perhaps because a believer is not an electoral monolith. He may worry about the conservative agenda, always extolled by Bolsonaristas, but his identity is multiple. Most evangelicals, for example, are women and poor, groups that lean towards Lula. There is no Our Father that guarantees the omnipotence that Bolsonaro would like to have in the temples.