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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"It ended with no knock-out blow"
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The BBC's Rob Watson
"Voters say they still need to see and hear more from the two men"
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The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Washington
"This election is largely about how America can spend its economic windfall"
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Wednesday, 4 October, 2000, 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK
Al Gore 'wins' TV debate
Democrat Al Gore(l) and Republican George W Bush (r)
Opinion polls say Al Gore narrowly won the debate
Opinion polls taken after the first televised debate of the US presidential election campaign have pronounced the Democratic Party candidate, Vice-President Al Gore, the winner, but only just.

Voters polled after watching the exchanges late on Tuesday felt Mr Gore had a slight edge over his Republican Party rival, George W Bush.

The debate did not clearly have the decisive effect some had been predicting

Yet both men can take comfort from another finding - that the public perception of them had been improved by the debate.

A BBC correspondent in Boston, Rob Watson, says the debate - the first of three TV showdowns - did not have the decisive effect some had been predicting.

One poll showed only 3% of viewers had changed their voting intentions as a result.

High stakes

With just five weeks to go both Al Gore and George W Bush are already back on the campaign trail.

Republican George W Bush
Bush "leads among married voters"

A CNN/USA Today Gallup poll taken immediately after the debate on Tuesday night indicated that 48% of registered voters favoured the Democrat candidate, Al Gore.

In contrast, 41% thought his opponent, the Republican candidate George W Bush, did the better job.

Both candidates had much at stake in the 90-minute debate.

But political analysts judged that neither of them delivered the kind of knockout blow that could break open the closest US presidential race in 40 years.

Mr Gore and Mr Bush have two more chances when they face off again in Winston-Salem next Wednesday and St. Louis, Missouri, on 17 October.

Bush confident

Regardless of the opinion poll findings, both candidates claimed they had won the TV duel.

After the debate, Mr Bush dashed to Pennsylvania and Ohio to build on what he perceived was a victory.

Democrat Al Gore
Gore "gaining womens' votes"
"I thought I did just fine," Mr Bush said. "I had a chance to talk to the American people without a filter."

The Texas governor described Mr Gore's performance as "fine," but thought he was also aggressive.

"It's hard to tell the voters' thinking. He was very aggressive. I think the voters got to see that we differ."

Immediately after the debate, Mr Gore pumped his fist into the air in a sign of victory as nearly 1,000 supporters chanted: "Al Gore, Al Gore".

The vice president appeared live on television talk shows on Wednesday morning and expressed satisfaction with his performance.

"I felt good about it," Mr Gore said on NBC's Today show.

"I had a chance to tell the American people about my proposals."

Gore leads

Another poll by Reuters and MSNBC taken before the presidential debate and released on Wednesday gave Mr Gore a five point edge over Mr Bush.

John Zogby, who conducted the survey said: "The good news for Gore is that he's doing very well among men as well as continuing his lead among women.

"The good news for Bush is that he continues to hold a slight lead among married voters, 'born again' Christians and rural voters."

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04 Oct 00 | Americas
Gore and Bush lock horns
04 Oct 00 | Americas
Students' views on the big debate
04 Oct 00 | Americas
Analysis: Few sparks, little drama
12 Sep 00 | Election news
Gore fights back in polls
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