BRASILIA, (Reuters) – Brazil’s ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff has widened her lead in October’s presidential race over opposition candidate Jose Serra, a poll showed yesterday.
It is the biggest advantage any poll has so far given Rousseff, who in December trailed former Sao Paulo state governor Serra by as much as 20 percentage points.
Rousseff, a career civil servant from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party, got 41 percent of voter support with 33 percent for Serra, according to the Vox Populi poll released by TV Bandeirantes.
The same poll in June showed Rousseff ahead with 40 percent support against 35 percent for Serra.
Former Environment Minister Marina Silva remained unchanged with 8 percent. Rousseff, Lula’s former chief of staff, has benefited from the support of the most popular president in Brazil’s history and breakneck economic expansion that is creating millions of jobs this year.
“As more Brazilians realize she’s Lula’s candidate and offers continuity, she rises in the polls,” said Christopher Garman, Latin America analyst with EurasiaGroup consultancy in Washington.
“It was a matter of time for Dilma to move ahead, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” Garman added.
A Datafolha poll expected to be published over the weekend could confirm Rousseff’s advantage.
With only two and a half months left to the Oct. 3 election, investors are closely watching to see whether either candidate can maintain a significant lead.
Over the past three months Rousseff and Serra have been in a virtual tie, with poll results fluctuating in response to their campaign advertisement on TV. Lula was campaigning late yesterday with Rousseff in Pernambuco, the poor northeastern state where he was born. Under Brazilian law public officials cannot use state resources to campaign for candidates, but the former union leader argues he is free to campaign after hours.