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Photograph: EPA/SHAWN THEW

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in a virtual dead heat in the opinion polls ahead of the first presidential debate, the Washington Post newspaper reported Sunday.

In a new Washington Post-ABC News survey, 46 per cent of likely voters supported Clinton and 44 per cent supported Trump. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson was at 5 per cent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 1 per cent.

Clinton and Trump are tied at 41 per cent among registered voters, with Johnson at 7 per cent and Stein at 2 per cent.

In a two-way matchup, Clinton is ahead of Trump by 49 per cent to 47 per cent among likely voters. The two are tied at 46 per cent among all registered voters.

The Democratic candidate Clinton and her Republican rival Trump face off in the first of three presidential debates on Monday at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island.

The 90-minute debate marks the start of the final phase of the presidential campaign ahead of November 8 elections.

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