President Dilma Rousseff gained steam but remained locked in a dead heat for votes with challenger Aecio Neves ahead of Brazil\’s Oct. 26 presidential runoff, an opinion poll showed on Monday.
Rousseff had 45.5 percent of voter support versus 44.5 percent for Neves, according to the survey by polling firm MDA, its first since the election\’s first-round vote on Oct. 5. The difference between the two is statistically insignificant because it is within the poll\’s margin of error.
Excluding undecided voters, spoiled and blank survey responses, Rousseff has 50.5 percent against 49.5 percent for Rousseff.
Recent surveys by the more closely watched Datafolha and the Ibope pollsters showed Neves slightly ahead of Rousseff, but within the surveys\’ margin of error.
Still Monday\’s poll echoed indications in the last Datafolha survey that Rousseff, a leftist, could pull ahead because the rejection rate of Neves, who is from a business-friendly centrist party, is climbing.
Brazil\’s stocks and currency added to losses after the poll showed Neves, a market favorite, losing momentum as Rousseff seeks to clinch a second term and a fourth consecutive administration for the ruling Workers\’ Party.
The tight race has turned increasingly ugly as Rousseff and Neves scramble for undecided voters. They have swapped accusations of corruption and economic mismanagement in heated televised debates over the past few days.
The MDA survey showed both candidates have nearly the same rejection rate – 40.7 percent said they would never vote for Rousseff while 41.0 percent said they would never pick Neves.
Rousseff won the first-round vote with 41.6 percent versus 33.6 percent for Neves, a difference of 8 million votes. Neves was endorsed a week ago by environmentalist Marina Silva, who placed third with 22 million votes.
MDA interviewed 2,002 voters over the weekend in a poll commissioned by the transport lobby CNT. The poll\’s margin of error is 2.2 percentage points in either direction.