KIEV (Reuters) - Comic actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a political novice who plays a fictional president in a popular TV series, has maintained a strong lead in Ukraine’s presidential election race, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.
But support for the 41-year-old remains far below the level needed to secure outright victory in the March 31 ballot, and most voters still do not expect him to become president, the KIIS survey showed.
The poll by KIIS research body, the final survey for the election’s first round, showed Zelenskiy on 20.9 percent of votes, with incumbent Petro Poroshenko second on 13.7 percent and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko third on 9.7 percent.
Thirty-nine candidates have registered for the election. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the votes cast, the top two will face each other in a run-off on April 21.
KIIS said 21.5 percent of those it questioned favored Zelenskiy to win in a second round, 18.3 percent expected Poroshenko to be re-elected and 10.1 percent saw Tymoshenko as the winner.
KIIS said it interviewed 1,600 voters in all regions, except annexed Crimea, from March 20-26.
Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones