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Poll: Bush, Kerry even in 2nd debate

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Who won the second presidential debate?
President Bush
John Kerry
Evenly matched

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) -- There was no clear winner of the second presidential debate, a poll taken late Friday suggests.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup snap poll taken immediately after the presidential debate Friday night found that respondents gave a slight, statistically insignificant edge to Sen. John Kerry over President Bush, 47 percent to 45 percent.

The respondents included 515 registered voters who watched the debate. Their political affiliations broke down as 38 percent Republican, 32 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, making the results a virtual draw.

The poll did suggest that Bush had a significantly better performance than in the first debate, which respondents gave to Kerry by a margin of 53 percent to 37 percent.

The poll is a reflection of immediate impressions of only those voters who watched the debate.

The respondents were polled before the event and 50 percent said they planned to vote for Bush while 46 percent favored Kerry.

On the issue of who could better handle the economy, Kerry made gains with the respondents. Bush led 50 percent to 44 percent before the night began, but the two candidates emerged tied at 49-49.

Bush showed strong gains on the issue of who would better handle Iraq. What was a 50-46 lead for Kerry became a 53-46 edge for Bush.

The president also scored higher when respondents were asked which candidate would be tougher; Bush was favored 53 percent to 40 percent over Kerry.

Kerry was viewed as the candidate who understood the issues better (47-42) and the one who expressed himself more clearly (54-37).

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