SÃO PAULO — A final slew of polls released on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s first-round vote of the Brazilian presidential elections has predicted a comfortable win for leftist incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, but one that falls short of the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff.
The polls predicted the Workers’ Party candidate would also win the highly-likely second round.
However, the results suggested it would now be fought against centre-right Social Democracy Party candidate Aécio Neves, who has pulled ahead of former environment minister Marina Silva for the first time since she entered the race mid-August, in a final twist ahead of the first-round vote.
Silva stepped up as presidential candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party after running mate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash on 13 August.
The race for second place had narrowed significantly in recent days.
Despite the former governor of Minas Gerais now being numerically in front of Silva, the pair still remain technically tied for second place, within the polls’ margin of error.
The biggest of Saturday’s polls, conducted by Datafolha and which surveyed 18,116 voters in 468 municipalities on Friday and Saturday, predicted Rousseff would get 40 percent of total votes, with Neves on 24 percent and Marina on 22 percent.
With only valid votes considered, Rousseff’s share is 44 percent, Neves – 26 percent, and Silva – 24 percent.
The Datafolha poll says Rousseff would beat either Neves or Silva in a second-round vote, by eight and six points respectively, if held today.
The survey also found four percent of respondents remained undecided, and that a further four percent would either spoil their ballot or not vote.
The other two smaller polls released Saturday – by Ibope and MDA/CNT – also suggested Rousseff would win after a second-round vote, and that Neves had numerically leapfrogged Silva.
Silva’s performance in the polls has declined significantly in the last two weeks, after initially skyrocketing to such an extent that she posed a credible threat to Rousseff’s re-election.
Political experts told the Anadolu Agency on Friday that a lack of exposure on national TV and radio political broadcasts, coupled with difficulty in explaining and defending her economic proposals, have contributed to the slump in voter intentions.
Saturday’s polls will also have been influenced to some extent by Thursday’s final televised debate between seven of the presidential candidates, in which Neves gave a strong performance but a visibly-fatigued Silva lacked both confidence and coherent answers.
Nearly 143 million Brazilian are eligible to vote in the presidential election, which will go to a second round between the top two vote-getters on 26 October if none of the candidates garners more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday.
The vote is compulsory for those aged between 18 and 70 years of age, and optional for 16- and 17-year-olds and the over 70s.
Voters, which begins at 08:00 Brasília time (11:00 GMT) will also be electing deputies, senators, governors and state-level legislators as part of general elections. Results are expectedly shortly after polls close Sunday at 17:00 (20:00 GMT).