Large images of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump are seen on a CNN vehicle, behind a security fence at Hofstra University, in Hampstead, New York, September 24, 2014. (Photo by AFP)
US Democratic presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are virtually tied on the eve of the first 2016 presidential debate, according to a new poll.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday showed that the two candidates were locked in a dead heat among registered voters, each enjoying 41 percent support.
Clinton held a narrow 2-point edge over Trump among likely voters, leading him 46 percent to 44 percent. The slim lead falls well within the survey’s margin of error.
Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson followed Trump by gaining 5 percent support. Green Party candidate Jill Stein was at the bottom with 2 percent.
According to the Post, Clinton has lost much of her lead to the New York businessman over the past few weeks.
Earlier in September, the former secretary of state was ahead by 5 points in the same poll. The figure was as high as 8 percent in early August.
Enthusiasm ran high among voters for the first presidential debate, which will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Monday. Nearly 80 percent of the voters said they were going to watch the televised event.
Clinton held a higher chance of victory in the debate, according to the poll, with 44 percent expecting her to win, compared to Trump’s 34 percent.
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson (L) and Green Party candidate Jill Stein
Meanwhile, Stein and Johnson, who are running against the odds as third-party candidates in a two-party political system, have announced that they will attend the debate despite failing to make the required debate threshold.
To be on the debate stage, candidates need to reach 15 percent support in an average of five national polls.
In the US Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD)’s sample of polls, Johnson scored an average support of 8.4 percent while Stein averaged 3.2 percent.
“When you’re representing 13 million people, how do you discount that? How do you say 13 million people shouldn’t be represented on the stage?” Johnson said earlier this month.
He has also attacked the CPD, saying that Democrats and Republicans set up the organization because “they didn’t want any third party intrusions into their shows.”
Stein also rejected the standards set by the commission and announced that he plans to show up at the event with her supporters.
"We will be at the debate to insist that Americans not only have a right to vote, but we have a right to know who we can vote for," she said.

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