LONDON Former foreign secretary David Miliband, long favourite to become the next head of the Labour Party, has slipped behind his younger brother Ed in the leadership race, a poll indicated on Sunday.
The YouGov survey of 1,700 Labour and union members for the Sunday Times put the two brothers well ahead of the three other candidates hoping to lead the party after its election defeat in May following 13 years in power.
David Miliband, seen as the preferred candidate of former prime minister Tony Blair, secured the most first-choice support, with 36 percent of the vote, four points ahead of his brother on 32.
However, under the party's election rules the winning candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the vote.
YouGov said it now looked like Ed Miliband could emerge as the winner once lower-ranking candidates were eliminated and their supporters' second choice votes were redistributed.
It calculated that the former energy minister could receive 51 percent of the vote, with David Miliband on 49 percent.
The last YouGov poll, conducted on July 27-29, gave David Miliband 37 percent of first-choice votes, eight ahead of his brother on 29 percent.
Despite the latest poll finding, bookmaker William Hill kept David Miliband as their 4-11 favourite to win, but cut the odds on Ed Miliband from 3-1 to 2-1.
Voting began on August 16 and will be completed on September 22. The winner will be announced at the centre-left party's annual conference on September 25.
(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Mark Heinrich)