Leftist incumbent Hugo Chávez is virtually tied with main challenger Henrique Capriles in the race for Venezuela's Oct. 7 presidential election, polling firm Consultores 21 said Friday.

"According to our latest survey, President Chávez has 46 percent of voter preference and (Miranda state) Gov. Capriles has 45 percent, a kind of technical tie," the vice president of Consultores 21, Saul Cabrera, told Efe.

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The study, taken March 3-13 among 2,000 people nationwide, has a 2.3-percent margin of error.

The poll shows that 73.5 percent of the electorate is committed to voting. Within that group, 51 percent would vote for Chávez, 45 percent for Capriles, while 4 percent remain undecided.

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In the possibility that Chávez, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer, is not the ruling party candidate, government supporters say they would give their vote to Vice President Elias Jaua or to Adan Chávez, the president's brother and governor of the western state of Barinas.

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This is the first poll that places Capriles in a technical tie with the president, after four other surveys taken in the last few weeks gave the president an advantage of between 18 and 33 percentage points over the opposition candidate.

Chávez has been in office since 1999.

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