Bolsonaro leads on Every Network and Preserves His Support on Twitter; Lula Mobilizes Opposition, Which, Together, Surpasses the President’s Support Group
Digital Impact of the Candidates for the Presidency
Updated 16 de April, 2021 at 3:58 pm
- Together, the President’s support group and the group opposed to his government add up to 74.4% of the profiles involved in the political debate and concentrate more than 89.9% of the interactions on Twitter;
- Jair Bolsonaro’s support group on Twitter showed resilience and kept the volume of profiles and interactions in the three analyzed periods; the narratives articulate economical topics aimed at financially vulnerable people, and blame Mayors and Governors;
- Ciro presented good performance in his personal profile, but did not gather a consistent base of support on Twitter; Doria is the main actor in the center-right wing, which occupies almost 20% of the opposition’s debate;
- The current scenario indicates a strong polarization, with Lula appearing as the name with most engagement in the opposition field, but still in a volatile position.
A survey performed by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP) between March 11th and April 5th of 2021 identified 1681 publications in the official accounts of the main candidates to the presidency, as well as around 55.1 million of interactions and views to the official profiles of Jair Bolsonaro, the former President Lula, Luciano Huck, Ciro Gomes, and João Dória, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Furthermore, more than 18.3 million of mentions on Twitter to the candidates were collected.
The moment of higher mobilization happened in the night of Tuesday, 23rd – with 152.5 thousand tweets on 8 p.m. – during the speech of Jair Bolsonaro on open TV, with information regarding the measures and decisions from the government to fight Covid-19. The largest part of the debate considered the President’s statements as false.
The analysis was made in three periods: The first was from the 11th to the 17th of March; the second initiated on March 18th to March 24th; and the final period comprised March 25th until April 5th. The goal of this organization was to identify the possible changes in the configurations of the political fields around the candidates after the recovery of the political rights of former President Lula.
In the track of annulment of the convictions against former President Lula and after his first speech with the recovery of his political rights, the measurements of his official accounts (activity and engagement) were a highlight. Furthermore, it was possible to observe a wide mobilization around Lula’s image, also generating relevant digital impact. The official accounts from the President Jair Bolsonaro, still, presented far superior volume to the others in engagement. The personal profile of Ciro Gomes was notable in activity and engagement; in turn, João Doria presented high activity, even though the engagement level was more inexpressive. It is interesting to observe that not all of the candidates have official accounts in all of the analyzed networks; however, for the purpose of visibility and reach, online presence matters.
The resilience of Bolsonaro’s support group and his predominance in all of the networks put him in a strong advantage in the communicative field for the elections of 2022. The high reach allows for the articulation of narratives that remove the responsibility of the federal government in the management of the pandemic, as well as reinforces the arguments regarding the economic damage from the social distancing measures, approximating him to the more financially vulnerable population. The platforms thus conform a strategic space to contain damage related to the conduction of the pandemic by the federal government and pass the responsibility of the sanitary and economic chaos over to Mayors and Governors.
Regarding the map of interactions of the mentions to the candidates on Twitter, there persists a polarized configuration among the supporters and opposers to the federal government. In the three analyzed periods, a great stability in the sizes of the political fields was observed, with a group formed by allies of the President Jair Bolsonaro (blue), gathering between 25.6% and 29.5% of the profiles, and between 38.6% and 44% of the interactions. The opposition group was formed by the yellow group, which gathered the mentions to the opposite candidates, and pink, formed by profiles with lesser partisan alignment, which condensed between 57.4% and 65.5% of the profiles and between 57% and 58.8% of the interactions.
Map of interactions in the debate about the candidates on Twitter
From March 11th to March 17th
From March 18th to March 24th
From March 25th to April 5th
Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP
Yellow ‒ Candidates opposed to Bolsonaro
Leaded by left and center-left wing politicians, journalists and digital influencers, the group lamented the recent increase of Covid-19 deaths in the country, attributing it to the supposed negligence from the federal government regarding the fulfillment of preventive measures and the acquisition of vaccines (or, even, materials) against the disease. Alluding to a lawsuit recently conducted by the City Councilor Carlos Bolsonaro (Republicanos-RJ) against the YouTuber Felipe Neto, profiles reiterated the term “genocidal” that the influencer used against the President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) in his social media, regarding the performance of the President in the fight against the pandemic. Posts that exalted the former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had great repercussion regarding the recovery of his eligibility, and the fact that he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. They also highlighted the news that the he supposedly helped in the negotiation for the purchasing of doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. The aggravation of the pandemic, the threats of insubordination in Military Police headquarters and the interview of the former President Lula to the journalist Reinaldo Azevedo composed the main topics debated in the last period.
Blue –Jair Bolsonaro’s support group
Group composed of right-wing politicians, journalists and humorous profiles focused on making viral generic posts from the President celebrating the actions of the Brazilian military, the efforts from his government in reducing the taxes on fuels, the drop in the sales and circulation of specific press magazines in the country, among other measures from his management. Similarly, many posts focused on spreading the details of the car parades in favor of the government that occupied several cities in the country, on Sunday 11th, sharing pictures and videos of the movement and its supporters. Some punctual posts also attacked the measures of restriction imposed by São Paulo’s Governor João Doria (PSDB) due to the worsening of the pandemic in the State, demanding his removal from the post.
Pink – Profiles opposed to the government with no partisan alignment
Group composed of profiles of journalists, communication channels, artists, writers, digital influencers and politicians that oppose the federal government. The debate is conducted by the repercussion of the subpoena received by the digital influencer Felipe Neto after he called the president Jair Bolsonaro (no party) “genocidal” while blaming the supposed omission of the President in the fight against the pandemic, as well as by the record numbers of deaths by Covid-19 daily in Brazil. The supposed concept of genocide by the President was widely supported by the society and was reverberated by several profiles of artists and the opposition. Aside from the support and solidarity to the influencer, the profiles highlighted the defense of a democratic country and free of censorship, directing the notion that publicly expressing contrary opinions to the federal government do not qualify as crimes that harm the national security. This group, still, reinforces the idea that silencing and depriving the freedom of speech are practices from “authoritarian” and “fascist” governments.
In a second step of the analysis, a detailing of the political groups that composed the group of candidates that oppose the federal government (Yellow) was conducted, during the last collected period, between March 25th and April 5th.
Details of the opposition candidates on Twitter
Analysis period: March 25th and April 5th of 2021
Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP
Red – 45.3% of Profiles | 56.9% of Interactions
Most dense group in numbers of profiles and generated interactions, composed of political actors aligned with the left wing, traditional press portals and alternatives to the left wing, journalists and influencers. It focuses the largest part of the interactions on former President Lula an Federal Congressman Marcelo Freixo (PSOL – RJ). Excerpts of the interview of Lula to the journalist Reinaldo Azevedo and the campaigns #VacinaParaTodosJá (vaccines for everybody now) and #DitaduraNuncaMais (dictatorship never again) – due to the political controversies around the anniversary (03/31) of the coup of 1964 – generated expressive engagement in this field of the debate.
Yellow – 19.9% of Profiles | 18.7% of Interactions
Gathering politicians from a wider political spectrum as well as journalists, the group’s main profile was the Governor João Dória (PSDB-SP). Other relevant performance and engagement were the Federal Congressman Kim Kataguiri (DEM-SP) and the politician João Amoedo (NOVO). The news that with the approval from Anvisa, the country will start to provide with Butanvac, Covid-19 vaccine entirely produced in Brazil, constituted the main topic of this field. Accusations of coup by exposing the project of national mobilization and demands of impeachment also were part of the debate.
Orange – 6.3% of Profiles | 6.5% of Interactions
In this group, the candidate Ciro Gomes concentrated almost half of the interactions. Marina Silva also appears among the critical profiles, and the main topics condemn the “celebration” of the coup of 1964 (#DitaduraNuncaMais [dictatorship never again]) and tackled the firing of Commanders of the military. An interview with Ciro Gomes to Roda Viva (in March of 2020) resumed to circulate and amplified the engagement of the group.
Pink – 5.5% of Profiles | 3.9% of Interactions
Group formed by pages of memes that oppose the federal government, listing episodes in which the President denies science in the context of the pandemic and neglects the plan of national vaccination #BolsonaroDay (April 1st). The death of a soldier of the Military Police of Bahia and the “incitation” of a mutiny of the Military Police by part of the allies of the government also generated engagement.
Green – 5.3% of Profiles | 3.6% of Interactions
Group formed mainly by regular profiles that lamented recent episodes of the politics involving the fractures in the military institutions – also using the hashtag #DitaduraNuncaMais (dictatorship never again) – and the public expenses related to both health and social security as well as the vacations of the President.
On Twitter, all of the candidates have accounts, and, in general, high levels of activity and engagement. Along with the posts (1168 in total), they added up to more than 617.5 thousand interactions.
Publications vs. interactions in the candidates’ pages on Twitter
Analysis period: from March 11th to April 5th of 2021
Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP
The candidate with the higher number of retweets was President Bolsonaro. The high engagement was obtained through publications that highlight positive measures from the federal government, such as the publication of the newspaper Correio Brazilience, which reports the publication of Provisional Measure of the Vaccines in August 2020; efforts to reduce taxes on fuels; as well as the advancement of the construction works to deliver water to certain regions of the Northeast.
Lula is the second candidate with higher level of interactions, even being the fourth in number of publications. Among his main posts in the period, the highlights were manifestations of solidarity to the YouTuber Felipe Neto, who became a target of the lawsuit from the federal government; repercussions of the decision from the Supreme Court to consider the former Judge Sérgio Moro a suspect in the triplex lawsuit; as well as interviews to the newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique, in which he appealed to international leaders for vaccines, and the journalist and main opposers of the PT governments Reinaldo Azevedo.
Bolsonaro was also target of the main publications from João Dória, Luciano Huck and Ciro Gomes. The São Paulo Governor reacted to the speech from the President, accusing him of not telling the truth. The host Luciano Huck did not mention Jair Bolsonaro, but lamented the repercussion of the Brazilian crisis in the world, highlighting a headline from CNN Internacional. Ciro Gomes, in turn, adopted a more direct positioning, acquiring a lot of engagement in tweets that accused Bolsonaro of being corrupt and criticized the lawsuit due to a supposed crime that harmed the President’s honor.
The performance of the Ciro Gomes’ personal account on Twitter is close to Lula’s, but, as observed in the map of interactions, the PDT candidate lacks a more expressive volume of supporters in the platform. João Dória presented a very low engagement if compared to his high number of publications in the period. Regarding the mentions in his name, however, he presents a larger and more active group than Ciro Gomes. In turn, Luciano Huck’s performance in the network is very low, with few publications, little reach and no formation of a support group.
Facebook, alongside Twitter, is also a network in which all of the candidates have accounts. Therefore, a high number of activities (458 posts) and engagement (more than 28.1 million of interactions) was found.
Publications vs. Interactions in Pages of the Candidates on Facebook
Analysis period: March 11th to April 5th of 2021
Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP
The engagement of the candidates on Facebook pages is led, with a significative margin, by Jair Bolsonaro. The President reaches accentuated volume of interactions with the reproduction of speeches and official disclosures of the government.
With a lot less engagement than Bolsonaro, the former President Lula reiterates the importance of the vaccines in his posts on his official page, and, among the posts that accumulated more expressive interactions, the page tackled on the court ruling made by the Supreme Court that recognized the partiality of Judge Sérgio Moro in the lawsuit against the former President.
Luciano Huck and João Dória present, respectively, second and fourth best performances on Facebook. Luciano Huck exhibits topic fragmentation, but reaches expressive engagement in his posts. João Dória exhibits high level of activity and discloses the measures that the government of São Paulo has been taking in order to fight the pandemic, highlighting the importance of vaccination and exalting the work and production of vaccines by the Butantan Institute. Furthermore, he disclosed measures of economic support for sectors of the society that have been affected by the pandemic.
Ciro Gomes is the candidate with higher level of publications in his Facebook page, although being the one with less engagement. He moves the page with posts that criticize the federal government, highlighting the inefficacy and absence of effective measures in the fight of the Covid-19 pandemic. He also brings as a problem big companies leaving Brazil, which increases the external dependency of the country for medicine and basic supplies, such as gloves and masks.
On Facebook, Bolsonaro presents a much superior volume of performance than all of the other candidates, who, in turn, oscillated between 1.5 million to 4 million of interactions. Even if put together, the candidates that oppose Bolsonaro reach only 68.9% of the interactions obtained by him in the period.
Instagram was the network in which the candidates exhibited less activity (119 of total posts). However, they accumulated more than 15 million interactions.
Publications vs. interactions in the Candidates’ pages on Instagram
Analysis period: from March 11th to April 5th of 2021
Source: Instagram | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP
The account of President Bolsonaro, once again, is in the lead. The nature of his posts emphasizes the economic argument, condemning the strategy of lockdown as a combative measure in the pandemic. He disclosed economic measures from the government, the performance of the military, as well as the purchasing and the progress of vaccination in the country. Former President Lula highlighted the importance of the fight against the virus in a multisided fashion, appealing to the President of the United States Joe Biden and the members of G20 to collaborate, defending that the vaccine must be a “common good of the humanity”, and not a product conditioned to the logic of the market. Ciro Gomes made several posts tackling the worsening of Covid-19 in the country, with criticisms to the government. Furthermore, Ciro and Lula manifested solidarity and support to the YouTuber Felipe Neto.
Ciro Gomes is, among the candidates that oppose Bolsonaro, the one who most made posts in the period. However, he placed fourth in terms of engagement. Lula and Luciano Huck presented the same number of publications in the period, with advantages to the former President in terms of engagement. Bolsonaro repeats the performance in the other networks, being a lot further ahead in terms of engagement in the platform.
On YouTube, the candidates posted a total of 116 videos, reaching, however, an expressive volume of views (5.2 million).
Videos vs. views in the candidates’ channels on YouTube
Analysis period: March 11th to April 5th of 2021
The candidate with most prominent performance on YouTube, the channel of Jair Bolsonaro in the platform owes part of its engagement to three videos: two of his weekly live conferences, on the days of March 11th and 18th, which added up 362 thousand and 390 thousand views, respectively, as well as a video that discloses the first lot of vaccines delivered by Fiocruz to the government. Videos shared by Bolsonaro that bring testimonies from health professionals criticizing the press, and truckers thanking the Ministry of Development for improvements in the roads kept the engagement going. Other shared videos criticized the hardening of social distancing measures, as well as testimonies of impoverishment and misery caused by the unemployment. On April 5th, a video with the testimony of the Mayor of Chapecó recommending the use of prevention treatments for Covid-19 obtained more than 300 thousand views.
The engagement on the channel of Ciro Gomes, in turn, is anchored in excerpts of the interviews in which he criticizes the economic policies of the federal government – with direct attacks to Minister Paulo Guedes – a video testimony in which he defends an opening of a Parliamentary Committee of Investigation to investigate the performance of the federal government in the fight against the pandemic, as well as a compilation of statements regarding the corruption in Bolsonaro’s family. Lula’s views, in turn, are focused largely in views that show the former President receiving the first dose of the vaccine against Covid-19 in São Bernardo do Campo (SP), as well as in declarations about former Judge Sérgio Moro’s suspicion.
With one of the lowest performances on YouTube – despite the quantity of posts – João Doria’s channel trusts its engagement in videos about the performance of the government of São Paulo in fight against Covid-19. The video with the higher number of views (971) has the governor alerting to the worsening of the pandemic, announcing measures of restriction in the state and asking the population for understanding and collaboration. Other videos with a lot of repercussion show a visit from Dória to the installations of Butantan Institute, where the Covid-19 vaccines are fabricated, as well as the loading of trucks with more than 3 million doses of the vaccines to be delivered to the Ministry of Health.
Just like in the other platforms, Bolsonaro presents much superior performance in terms of engagement. There is, however, an important difference, since Bolsonaro was alto the candidate who most posted on YouTube in the period.
Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas
Marco Aurélio Ruediger
The manifestations expressed by the participants of panels of Fundação Getulio Vargas, where they are identified as such, in articles and interviews published by communication media in general, represent exclusively the opinions of their authors and not necessarily the institutional position of FGV.
DAPP Report is a publication with no political or partisan associations produced by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP), aiming to provide an analysis of the Brazilian political scenario through the public debate on social media.
The analysis produced in this Report does not seek to represent an electoral research; instead, it seeks to qualify the social perceptions in the digital environment regarding topics of public agenda, such as political actors and topics of public policies. Therefore, we do not authorize its use for political or partisan purposes, or for the endorsement of private positionings. More information regarding this work can be accessed in dapp.fgv.br/observa2018/metodologia.