Yeah, they pretty much got massive popular support because of their social handouts policy.
Back in 2002 Brazil was suffering the hangover from Fernando Henrique Cardoso's administration, which was portrayed as a bad because of its privatizations and the many bankruptcies that occured due to the shift in monetary policy.
In fact, his changes actually saved the country from the downward spiral of the late 80's and early 90's. The economy only needed to heal itself and be back to its feet, which started to occur when Lula took over. Then everybody thought the economic growth was due to Lula giving people checks to save them from starvation. His government actually missed the opportunity of a heated economy to invest at long terms.