The polls are starting to come out after the debate. As Mike Murphy recently wrote, “A sure bet in this campaign is that the media will write a big October comeback story for John Kerry.” And so it begins.

&#8220 As Mark A. Kilmer has said accurately and repeatedly, &#8216Polls is polls.&#8217&#8221

According to Newsweek’s latest poll

With a solid majority of voters concluding that John Kerry outperformed George W. Bush in the first presidential debate on Thursday, the president’s lead in the race for the White House has vanished, according to the latest Newsweek poll. In the first national telephone poll using a fresh sample, Newsweek found the race now statistically tied among all registered voters, 47 percent of whom say they would vote for Kerry and 45 percent for George W. Bush in a three-way race.

Removing Independent candidate Ralph Nader, who draws 2 percent of the vote, widens the Kerry-Edwards lead to three points with 49 percent of the vote versus the incumbent’s 46 percent.

Keep in mind that right after the Republican Convention, Newsweek had Bush up twelve, which proved to be an outlier. Now, this is not to say that Newsweek is wrong. It may well be right. However, Newsweek has not released the internals and the survey is among registered voters, while likely voters is generally more accurate.

Contrary to Newsweek’s poll, Rasmussen surveyed 3,000 likely voters and found the race to be 48.6% Bush and 45.6% Kerry. One third of Rasmussen’s voters had seen the debate by the time they were polled and, after seeing the debate, 3% decided to vote for Kerry, 2% decided to vote for Bush, and 1% are now undecided.

Bolstering Rasmussen is the Los Angeles Times survey that, according to Drudge, is showing Bush’s favorability ratings up one point (though still within the margin of error) to 52%. The Los Angeles Times results are consistent with Gallup’s survey, which also showed an increase in Bush’s favorability rating and showed, much like Newsweek’s own poll showed, that Kerry failed to surpass Bush on any of the key leadership traits on which voters appear to be making their choice. To be fair, Newsweek did show an increase for Kerry in key areas, but neither Gallup nor the Los Angeles Times showed such upticks.

All in all, it appears the debate remains a draw except for Evan Thomas’s news organization. Evan Thomas, if you will remember, is the guy who said the media will try to help Kerry win.

Overall, the dynamics of this race appear not to have dramatically changed, though Bush’s lead has shrunk some. Pundits will be in a better position by the middle of next week, by which time Bush will have thoroughly beaten Kerry over his head with the “global test” remark. As Mark A. Kilmer has said accurately and repeatedly, “Polls is polls.”