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Inside Politics

Polls: Kerry won debate

Bush post-convention lead 'erased'

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry faced off Thursday in the first of three presidential debates.
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George W. Bush
John F. Kerry
Dick Cheney
John Edwards

(CNN) -- A majority of Americans believe Sen. John Kerry won the first presidential debate of the 2004 campaign, putting him in a virtual tie with President Bush, according to polls released Saturday by Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times.

Newsweek reported that Thursday's debate in Miami, Florida, had "erased the lead" that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have held over Kerry and running mate Sen. John Edwards since the Republican National Convention in New York.

Newsweek's post-convention poll had Bush leading among registered voters 54 percent to 43 percent. Its post-debate poll had 47 percent choosing Kerry-Edwards, and 45 percent for Bush-Cheney. Two percent said they would vote for Ralph Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo.

The Newsweek survey polled more than 1,000 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Newsweek's post-debate poll showed 61 percent of respondents said Kerry won, 19 percent said Bush won and 16 percent said they were undecided.

The poll also found 56 percent said Kerry did better than expected in the debate while 11 percent said the same for Bush.

In the Los Angeles Times poll, 54 percent of 725 respondents surveyed declared Kerry the winner of the debate, compared with 15 percent who said Bush won.

Before the debate, a Los Angeles Times poll showed Kerry with a one percentage point lead over Bush, and after the debate Kerry's lead increased to two points. Those margins are well within the poll's margin of error -- plus or minus four percentage points.

The debate was the first of three match-ups between Kerry and Bush.

Vice President Dick Cheney and his Democratic challenger, John Edwards, will debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. (Full story)

On Friday, the second presidential debate will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by the final debate on October 13 in Tempe, Arizona.

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