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Brazil polls show Rousseff rebound before election

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff widened her lead ahead of Brazil’s presidential runoff election, a poll showed on Wednesday, appearing to confirm a rebound after her recent slide in support.

Rousseff had 51 percent of voter support ahead of the October 31 vote, according to the Ibope poll published by the online edition of Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. The centrist opposition challenger Jose Serra had 40 percent.

In a similar Ibope poll on October 13, Rousseff, the handpicked would-be successor to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had 49 percent support to Serra’s 43 percent.

The poll is likely to encourage Lula’s former chief of staff, who had been struggling since she failed to win a majority in the October 3 first-round election.

The result is similar to a Vox Populi poll earlier this week that showed Rousseff with a 12-point lead.

A second survey released late on Wednesday showed Rousseff’s lead widening, but not by a significant margin.

The Sensus poll published by the National Transport Confederation, or CNT, showed Rousseff with 46.8 percent voter support, unchanged from last week. Serra had 41.8 percent, down nearly 1 percentage point.

The CNT canceled earlier on Wednesday its usual news conference to announce the poll and instead published it on its website. It surveyed 2,000 people between October18 and October19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Rousseff’s campaign has been shaken by corruption allegations involving a former aide and attacks by religious leaders over her past views on abortion.

Rousseff of the ruling Workers’ Party had fallen just short of a first-round win on October 3 with 47 percent of the votes against 33 percent for former Sao Paulo state Governor Serra.

Neither Rousseff nor Serra would likely change Lula’s broad economic policies but she favors stronger state-owned companies in some industries and he favors a stronger government hand in directing economic policy.

The Ibope poll surveyed 3,010 people from October 17 to October 20 and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points. With blank votes excluded from the poll, Rousseff’s support rose to 56 percent versus 44 percent for former Sao Paulo state governor Serra.

Reporting by Hugo Bachego and Raymond Colitt; Editing by Xavier Briand