Brasilia: Brazilian ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff maintained her lead over opposition challenger Jose Serra ahead of a presidential runoff election on October 31, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday.
Rousseff had 49 percent of voter support in the survey by polling firm Datafolha compared with Serra`s 38 percent, further evidence she is pulling away from her rival and winning back voters who shunned her in the first round vote.
The poll was published by the online edition of the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. The previous Datafolha poll on October 22 showed Rousseff with 50 percent and Serra with 40 percent.
Tuesday`s poll and other recent surveys suggest Rousseff has benefited from pushing the focus of the campaign toward Brazil`s economic successes under her mentor, the wildly popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Excluding undecided voters and those who said they would cast blank ballots, Rousseff held a 12-percentage point advantage of 56 percent versus 44 percent for Serra, the same as in the previous Datafolha poll.
Controversy about Rouseff`s statements on abortion and the existence of God led religious voters to back away from her in the October 3 first-round election, preventing her from winning the race without a runoff as some analysts had predicted.
Datafolha said the percentage of undecided voters rose to 8 percent from 6 percent from the previous poll, indicating Serra may still have some room to grow.
But Serra has failed to maintain the momentum he gained after the first round. The poll showed him losing support among voters in the south of country where he did the best in the first-round vote and has campaigned the hardest since.
He lost a major opportunity when Green Party candidate Marina Silva, whose strong showing in that vote helped deny Rousseff an outright victory, decided not to endorse either candidate for the runoff.