Brazil's Lula increases lead over Bolsonaro, has 48% voter support for Oct election -poll

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Former Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, pre-candidate for the presidency of the Republic speaks during an event called "Contagem abraca Lula" (Contagem hugs Lula), in Contagem, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Washington Alves/File Photo

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May 26 (Reuters) - Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has increased his polling lead over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro ahead of the October presidential election, according to a new survey by pollster Datafolha released on Thursday.

Lula drew 48% support in the opinion poll against Bolsonaro's 27%, compared with 43% and 26% respectively in March.

In an expected second-round runoff between the rivals, leftist leader Lula now has a 25 percentage-point lead over Bolsonaro, up from 21 points in March, the survey showed.

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Bolsonaro has been hurt by high inflation and soaring fuel prices that have led Brazilians to soften the anti-Lula sentiment that helped the far-right populist get elected in 2018, said political analyst Andre Cesar.

"These numbers are great news for Lula's campaign. Bolsonaro will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat now," said Cesar, of the Hold Assessoria risk consultancy.

It was Datafolha's first election poll since former Justice Minister Sergio Moro dropped out of the race, and carried out after Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria quit on Monday.

Both were potential rivals for the support of right-wing and centrist voters, but support for Bolsonaro increased by only 1 percentage point since March, while Lula advanced 5 points in first-round voting intentions, the poll showed.

If the run-off were held today, Lula would have 58% of the votes versus 33% for Bolsonaro, 3 percentage points more for Lula since March, and one less for Bolsonaro, the poll said.

In a very polarized election race, other candidates made negligible progress. Leftist former state governor Ciro Gomes and centrist Senator Simone Tebet advanced 1 percentage point to 7% and 2%, respectively.

Datafolha interviewed 2,556 Brazilians of voting age (16 years) on Wednesday and Thursday. The poll has a margin of error of 2 percentage points up or down.

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Reporting by Carolina Pulice in Mexico City and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis

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