Marina Silva drops to third in Brazil opinion poll

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Brazil's presidential candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) Marina Silva gestures during a campaign rally in Rio de Janeiro on 3 October 2014.

BRASLIA - Brazil&39;s presidential election took another dramatic turn on Saturday on the eve of the first-round vote as the final opinion poll showed popular environmentalist Marina Silva losing her second-place spot.

The early front-runner before slipping behind President Dilma Rousseff in recent weeks, Silva dropped to third behind Social Democrat Aecio Neves as both battle to face the incumbent in a likely run-off on October 26.

The final poll by the National Transport Confederation (CNT) gave Rousseff 40.6 percent with Neves on 24 and Silva on 21.4.

But the gap between Neves and Silva was within the margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, putting the two in a technical tie.

Barely a month ago, Neves, the preferred candidate of Brazil&39;s financial world, stood 20 percent behind Silva, a former environment minister and senator for Rousseff&39;s Workers&39; Party (PT).

But the CNT poll showed Neves adding 4.2 percentage points and Silva shedding 3.8.

The dramatic race was upended when third-place candidate Eduardo Campos died in a plane crash on August 13 and Silva, his running mate, replaced him atop the Socialist Party ticket and surged to the lead on projections for the run-off.

In a prospective second round, the CNT had Rousseff defeating Neves 46 percent to 40.8 percent, with the remaining voters either undecided or spoiling their ballots.

In a run-off between Rousseff and Silva, the incumbent would win 47.6 percent to 37.9 percent, it found.