I wrote two stories today recapping and analysing the weekend election results.
One piece appeared in Time magazine, which is basically a short analysis of what we can expect in the second round. And this one in the Christian Science Monitor is a straighter report of the weekend’s winners and losers.
The big surprise of course was the performance of Green Party candidate Marina Silva.
I spoke to a number of people outside a polling station in Brasiliandia, one of Sao Paulo’s gritty North Side neighbourhoods. I was shocked at how many people said they were voting for Marina. Of the dozen or so people I interviewed more than half said they were voting for her.
When you get that sort of response you never know if it is representative of the bigger picture. There could be any number of reasons one polling station or area or city supports a particular candidate and until that point there was no reason to believe the polls that gave Marina around 14 percent of the vote were substantially incorrect. Even though a lot of people said they supported her, it was hard for me to believe that she was really going to make an impact.
It was only when the results came in and she got 19 percent that I realized what I had seen was no fluke.
Marina will be a key player over the next few weeks, and probably over the next few years, too. But I think a lot of people are overestimating her influence in the second round ballot.
Her voters won’t all go to Serra and Dilma only needs 3 percent to secure victory. Dilma should still win quite comfortably, especially given that Lula will be out there shilling for her at every turn.
As analyst Christopher Garman told me about Dilma:
“All she has to do is stick to the message. Brazilian voters are optimistic about the future, they are satisfied with the status quo so her message has to be, You either stay the course of go back to the Cardoso years.”