Voters have questioned the US presidential hopefuls in a town hall-style debate dominated by the financial crisis and foreign policy.
Two polls taken right after the debate - by CBS News and CNN - judged Barack Obama the winner over John McCain.
Senator Obama said more must be done to help the middle classes and that his rival's tax cuts would aid the rich.
Mr McCain presented a plan for the US Treasury to help mortgage-holders and said Mr Obama wanted to raise taxes.
CNN's poll of debate-watchers found 54% said Mr Obama had done the best job, compared with 30% for Mr McCain.
CBS's poll of undecided voters suggested 39% thought Mr Obama the winner, with 27% for Mr McCain and 35% calling it a draw.
The debate took place as Mr Obama appeared to be developing a substantial lead in the opinion polls with just one month to go before the election takes place.
The latest Gallup daily tracking poll puts Mr Obama at 50% and Mr McCain at 42%, while a new CNN poll put Mr Obama ahead by 53% to 45%.
And polls in the key swing states such as Ohio, Florida and Colorado which are needed to win the election have also swung against Mr McCain.Hello test
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