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CNN poll: Bush gains solid post-debate lead over Gore

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Although the final presidential debate had a net impact of only four percentage points in Saturday's CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, it was still enough to turn a neck-and-neck race into a solid lead for GOP Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Before Tuesday's debate, Bush won support from 47 percent of all likely voters to 44 percent for Democratic Vice President Al Gore.

Saturday's poll showed Bush's support is 4 percentage points higher, and Gore's 4 percentage points lower, for a 51 percent to 40 percent Bush lead.

Minor party candidates Ralph Nader of the Green Party and Patrick Buchanan of the Reform Party received 4 percent and 1 percent respectively.

Saturday's tracking poll results are the first that are based entirely on interviews conducted after the debate.

For now, the debate appears to have made Republicans more enthusiastic about voting while turning some Democrats away from the polls.

The number of Republicans who say they are absolutely certain they are going to vote has grown since pre-debate polls while the number of Democrats who say they will definitely vote dropped after the debate.

Republicans and conservatives are also more interested in the contest than Democrats and liberals, with attention particularly low in the Northeast, where most of Gore's safest states are located.

The poll -- conducted from interviews with 718 likely voters between October 18 and 20, 2000 -- only shows what the outcome might be if the election were held today.

If Democrats can boost interest in the election and enthusiasm for voting among the party faithful between now and Election Day, the outcome on November 7 could look very different than Saturday's tracking poll results.

CNN will be releasing the results of its tracking polls every day until Election Day. The polls monitor public opinion of the presidential race over intervals of two to three days.


CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP POLL

October 18-20

Likely Voters' Choice for President

Bush51%
Gore40
Nader4
Buchanan1
Sampling error: +/-4% pts



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Saturday, October 21, 2000


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