SÃO PAULO — Brazil’s incumbent president Dilma Rousseff could now be on course for a first-round win in next week’s crunch presidential elections, experts said on Friday after a major poll was published.
According to the latest Datafolha election poll ahead of the first-round vote on 5 October, Rousseff has very nearly doubled her first-round lead to 13 points and pulled ahead of her main rival in a runoff scenario.
The Datafolha poll showed 40 percent would vote for Rousseff, presidential candidate for the Workers’ Party, whereas support for Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva had dropped to 27 percent.
Aécio Neves, the right-of-centre Social Democracy Party candidate, came third with 18 percent of voter support.
A simulated second round gave Rousseff 47 percent and Silva 43 percent — on the cusp of a technical tie given the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, but one that still favours the incumbent.
It was the first time in the Datafolha series that Rousseff has beaten Silva numerically in a hypothetic runoff between the two candidates.
Experts said the poll suggested the likelihood of an outright win in the first round on 5 October had now increased.
“This poll is important in that it showed the chance of a second turn has reduced,” Datafolha Director-General Mauro Paulino said, commenting on the results on TV Folha.
This view is shared by political scientist Maria do Socorro Sousa Braga, professor at the Federal University of São Carlos, who told the Anadolu Agency that a first-round win was now on the cards:
“If you take the ‘valid’ votes [i.e. exclude spoilt and voided ballots] in the first round, Rousseff reaches 45 percent and we inch closer to a win for her on 5 October, as the remaining undecided voters by this stage will likely side with the winning candidate or not vote at all,” Braga told AA.
“Although Dilma Rousseff has increased her attacks on her main rival in recent weeks, the Marina Silva campaign is now likely to be in crisis at these results, and will up their offensive, desperate to score points back from Rousseff — which in turn is unattractive to voters,” Braga said.
The last Datafolha poll ahead of next week’s vote, commissioned jointly between the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper and TV Globo, was conducted on 25-26 September and surveyed 11,474 people in 402 municipalities across Brazil.
The previous poll in the Datafolha series, published on 19 September, also showed Silva’s momentum had waned. That poll put Rousseff on 37 percent, Silva on 30 percent, and Neves on a 17 percent.
‘Crisis’ for Marina Silva campaign
Neves had been comfortably in second place until Marina Silva’s dramatic entry into the presidential race after the death of the Socialist Party’s original candidate, Eduardo Campos, in a plane crash.
By the end of August, Silva had skyrocketed in the polls, pulling ten points ahead of Rousseff.
However, Rousseff has since seen her first-round fortunes improve considerably, clawing back second-round votes to force the contest back to a tie — one she is now odds on to win.
Conversely, Silva has since dropped back, suffering from a combination of a lack of free television and radio political advertising time, which is allocated according to congressional representation, as well as relentless attacks from the Rousseff campaign, which has tried to show the environmentalist as in league with the banks.
If the vote does go to a runoff on 26 October, however, the two remaining candidates would have equal access to the free national political broadcasts, with 20-minute blocks split down the middle.
Friday’s poll also showed that the rejection rate for Rousseff’s candidacy had continued to shrink, down from 35 percent at the end of August, to 31 percent. Silva’s rejection rate, however, has climbed steadily, from 11 percent in mid-August to 23 percent now, overtaking Neves’s rejection rate for the first time.