The toucans will decide on November 21 whether to choose João Doria or Eduardo Leite as the party’s candidate for Planalto. From a purely electoral point of view, the choice does not seem difficult.
Doria needs to put aside her fixation with the Presidency and make room for the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, who is more likely to surprise at the polls.
I say that and bite my tongue. I’ve already written something very similar here, with different characters: “Alckmin, Aécio, let Doria be president”.
It was March 2017 and the right was enthusiastic about the managing mayor. Unlike the typical toucan, Doria was proud to claim to be liberal and openly promised to privatize what she could. Brazilian politics was still polarized between PT and PSDB; few people took the image of Bolsonaro elected president seriously.
Doria was eventually elected governor and, four years later, enthusiasm for him gave way to rejection. According to Datafolha, more paulistas fully trust Bolsonaro’s statements than Doria’s.
Even among São Paulo, Doria is in fourth place in the polls for the presidency. Governor of a state with four times more voters, he has the same 4% of voting intentions as Eduardo Leite.
Why such low popularity? It is reasonable to say that, during the pandemic, Doria’s performance surpassed that of governors who today have higher approval rates.
The main reason for rejection is the governor’s stance. His words and way of speaking seem to exude narcissism and arrogance; voters see in him ambition masquerading as good-for-nothing. Fair or not, this image stuck and is unlikely to change.
Eduardo Leite, on the other hand, does not suffer so much rejection. It carried out the most profound administrative reform in the country, removed the need for a referendum for privatization, sold the energy distribution company and prepared the sale of the state sanitation company.
It cultivated consistency to its principles without creating so many divisions or resentments. On the contrary, even Lula complained last week that the Gaucho PT needs to raise the tone and make a tougher opposition to Leite.
Voters often get tired of the same actors and choose a new face to play the theater –the operetta– of politics. The governor of Rio Grande do Sul could benefit from this novelty effect. Few people got angry or tired of him; is someone who still arouses the audience’s curiosity.
Would the fact that Eduardo Leite had assumed homosexuality prevent his victory, considering the homophobia of most Brazilians? I am not sure.
He has handled the issue well — he has managed to keep it as a “nonissue”, a topic of little interest or controversy. If so, it’s possible that your sexual orientation will attract more voters than it does, or at least not harm you.
And there’s the voice—my God, what that man’s voice is. While Sérgio Moro’s voice takes millions of votes from him, Eduardo Leite’s guarantees him 10% of the electorate.
The reader may find this frivolous, but think again. We like to believe that voters move by reason; the truth is that voice and appearance get more votes than many proposals and arguments.
(Which, by the way, reveals the essential madness of politics. We relegate the command of public health, the army, the education system and economic policy to people whose main attributes are appearance or the ability to speak what voters want to hear .)
Anyway: between Doria and Leite, I don’t know which of the two would be the best president. But today Eduardo Leite is certainly the best candidate.
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