Rousseff Lead in Brazil Poll Too Thin to Call 1st Round Win

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s lead against potential candidates in October’s presidential election is too narrow to call a first round victory, according to a poll published today.

Rousseff would win 35 percent of the vote in a Sensus poll that pitched her against Aecio Neves and Eduardo Campos, who respectively would garner 23.7 percent and 11 percent for a combined 34.7 percent. A candidate needs to have more than 50 percent support or more votes than all other candidates added together to avoid a runoff. The April 22-25 survey of 2,000 has margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent.

Rousseff has seen her popularity battered in four previous polls in the past month, as more voters say they seek change to Brazil’s political direction. Her backing has been undermined by accelerating inflation and stagnant economic growth. Rousseff on April 30 promised lower income taxes and more cash handouts to arrest the decline in her support.

“Votes migrated from the president to opposition candidates,” the magazine quoted Sensus director Ricardo Guedes Ferreira Pinto as saying. “A complete reading of the survey indicates that the president will have a lot of problems turning things around.”

In a second scenario in the Sensus poll, Rousseff would win 34 percent of the vote against 32.4 percent for a combined seven candidates. Neves and Campos would garner 19.9 percent and 8.3 percent of the vote in that pool, according to the survey published online by IstoE magazine.

The Runoff

Rousseff would win the runoff, beating Neves by 6.7 percentage points and Campos by 14.3 percentage points, according to the survey. Forty-two percent of those surveyed say they wouldn’t vote for Rousseff under any circumstances compared to 35.1 percent who say the same about Campos and 31.1 percent about Neves, it said.

Rousseff yesterday evening said she was honored when her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said she would be named the party’s official candidate at its convention in June. Saying Rousseff faces a difficult election, Lula called on supporters to back her campaign.

“I will be on Dilma’s side in this election,” Lula said at the event in Sao Paulo just days after 20 lawmakers from Rousseff’s coalition urged him to take her place in October elections. “I will be campaigning for Dilma.”

Reduce Inequality

A trained economist, Rousseff told supporters she would continue to reduce inequality and expand a subsidized housing program. Nearly 66 percent of respondents in the Sensus survey said their purchasing power has diminished in the past year.

Gross domestic product expanded 2 percent annually during Rousseff’s first three years in office, the slowest average pace for a Brazilian president since Fernando Collor, who resigned in 1992 amid corruption allegations. Inflation has remained above the 4.5 percent midpoint of the target range since she took office.

Rousseff on April 30 said she will alter the income tax table to raise take-home pay and boosted by 10 percent the value of cash transfers in the Bolsa Familia social welfare program to help keep its 36 million beneficiaries above the poverty line.

Nearly 32 percent of respondents had a negative view of the government compared to 30 percent who hold a positive outlook, according to the poll. More people disapprove than approve of Rousseff’s performance, and 50.2 percent say Brazil isn’t on the right track.

“The current situation is not favorable for the president,” Guedes said.

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