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Thanks to Women and Poor Serra Boosts Lead as Brazil’s Presidential Candidate

Rousseff and SerraGovernor of São Paulo José Serra, the main opposition candidate in Brazil’s presidential election next October widened his lead over the ruling party contender as his popularity grew among poor voters and women, pollster DataFolha said Saturday.

Support for Serra, who said this month he will formally announce his candidacy in early April rose to 36% in the March 25-26 poll from 32% a month earlier, DataFolha said.

Dilma Rousseff, the candidate for the ruling Workers’ Party and President Lula da Silva’s chief of staff, saw her support fall slightly to 27% from 28%. Rousseff and Lula da Silva have appeared together at a number of ribbon-cutting events that raised her exposure in the media.

In the event of a run-off (no candidate garners 50% in the first round), Serra, who lost the 2002 election to current president Lula da Silva, would take 48% of the vote against 39% from Dilma.

DataFolha surveyed 4,158 voters across Brazil and said its poll had a margin of error of 2 percentage points. The poll showed Serra’s appeal rising among female voters and the poor, two segments seen as strengths for Rousseff. The latest numbers could also mark a rebound for Serra, whose reluctance to announce his candidacy earlier this year likely hurt his standing among voters.

“Both the recovery in Serra’s support and Dilma’s stability will yet have to be confirmed by new surveys,” Mauro Paulino, general manager of Sao Paulo-based DataFolha, said in a commentary piece in Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Serra’s decision to announce his candidacy in a television interview last week “helped reverse his decline,” Paulino added.

Serra also widened his lead in the three states of Brazil’s south, home to 14% of voters, to 48% from 38%, DataFolha said. In the South-eastern region, Brazil’s most populous, support for Serra rose by 2 points to 40% while Rousseff was stable at 24%.

The poll also showed presidential hopeful Ciro Gomes, a lawmaker, with 11% of vote intention while former Environment Minister Marina Silva had 8%, virtually stable from the last reading.

But the big story is that with only nine months left (out of eight years) the administration of President Lula da Silva has a record (excellent or good) support of 76%. Only 4% consider the president’s performance bad, and 20% “acceptable”. DataFolha said that this was a record, since it begun gauging government performances in 1990.

In related news Dilma Rousseff over the week end underwent a routine medical check-up and a catheter used for treatment of lymphatic cancer was withdrawn, reported the Sao Paulo Syrian-Lebanese hospital.

Ms Rousseff from April to September last year underwent treatment for lymphatic cancer, which apparently was successful.
 
Mercopress

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