Bolsonaro gains on Lula in Brazil race, helped by Moro exit -poll

BRASILIA, April 7 (Reuters) - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has cutleftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's lead by one-third ahead of October's election, gaining ground as former judge Sergio Moro appears to be out of the race, a poll showed Thursday.

If the election were held today, Lula would get 45% of the votes versus 31% for Bolsonaro in the first round, according to the Genial/Quaest poll, with the gap between them narrowing to 14 percentage points from 20 points last month.

It was the first time Bolsonaro had more than 30% of first-round voter intentions since pollster Quaest began conducting the surveys late last year.

In a second-round runoff, Lula would still defeat Bolsonaro comfortably with 55% of the votes versus 34%, an advantage that has slipped just a point, compared with 54% to 32% a month ago.

The poll backed up a trend seen in an XP/Ipespe poll on Wednesday, showing Bolsonaro reducing Lula's lead by 4 points to 44% versus 30% with the likely withdrawal from the race of corruption-fighting former judge Moro. read more

With Moro apparently sidelined and Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria facing divisions in his party, Bolsonaro's numbers have enjoyed a small bounce, Quaest Chief Executive Felipe Nunes said.

"We are seeing two phenomena: the return of the president's voters to the Bolsonarista nest and the disenchantment of voters with the possible emergence of a third candidate," Nunes said.

Some of those looking previously for an alternative to the polarized race between Lula and Bolsonaro are now considering backing the incumbent, Nunes said.

According to the survey, if Moro stays out of the race, 2 of his 6 percentage points of prior support would go to Bolsonaro, with the rest distributedamong Lula, Doria and former Ceara Governor Ciro Gomes, along with more voters still undecided.

The poll showed that Doria's rejection rate topped the presidential field, with 63% saying they know him and would not vote for him, compared with 61% saying the same of Bolsonaro and 42% for Lula.

Bolsonaro's approval rating has improved slightly, the Quaest poll showed, with 26% of voters evaluating his government positively, up from 24% last month.

The Quaest poll, commissioned by Banco Genial, interviewed 2,000 people between March 30 and April 3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, meaning results could vary by that much either way.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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