Brazil's leader holds wide lead six months from election: survey

BRASILIA Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:30pm EDT

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff attends the inauguration ceremony for the South Pier of the Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport in Brasilia April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff attends the inauguration ceremony for the South Pier of the Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport in Brasilia April 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Despite a mushrooming scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras and bad news on the economic front, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is still the hands-down favorite to win the elections in October, according to a new poll on Wednesday.

If the vote were held today, Rousseff would win 40 percent of the ballots, while her two main rivals put together would get only 24 percent, not enough to force a run-off, the poll showed.

The survey last week by local polling firm Vox Populi indicated that rising inflation in a stagnant economy, coupled with bribery, money laundering and overpricing investigations at Petrobras have not undermined Rousseff's popularity as yet.

The number of voters intending to back the left-leaning president for a second four-year term has fallen off just one percentage point since the previous Vox Populi poll in February.

But the expected candidate of the main opposition party, centrist Senator AĆ©cio Neves also slipped one percentage point to 16 percent, according to the poll published on the website of the news magazine Carta Capital.

Eduardo Campos, a business-friendly socialist from Brazil's poor northeastern region who announced on Monday he will run with popular environmentalist Marina Silva on his ticket, advanced two percentage points to 8 percent, the poll said.

Allegations of corruption and mismanagement at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, have damaged Rousseff's image as a competent manager and may lead to a congressional probe sought by her opponents.

But her rivals have so far failed to capitalize on the Petrobras scandal or a widespread desire for change among Brazilians.

Brazil's economic activity slowed sharply in February from January, central bank data showed on Wednesday, suggesting a weak start to the year, the fourth of slow growth in the once-booming South American nation.

Rousseff survived massive protests last year over the lack of adequate public services, the high cost of living and the expense of building stadiums for the soccer World Cup Brazil will host in June, when more demonstrations are expected.

The poll of 2,200 voters was conducted April 6-8 and has a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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