"Kerry Finds Comfort in First Batch of Exit Polls," was the headline on the popular website drudgereport.com

Another well known political website, Slate.com, posted what it said were early exit poll numbers which had Kerry leading Bush in the crucial states of Florida and Ohio and by a wide margin in Pennsylvania.

Kerry was also leading in other battleground states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico, according to the numbers posted on Slate.com and other web sites.

There was no independent confirmation of the accuracy of the numbers and several web sites which published the data stressed it was raw and not definitive.

Slate.com and other web sites said the exit poll numbers came from the National Election Pool, a consortium of the US news agency Associated Press and five television networks ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox.

The US networks have pledged not to announce a winner until the polls close.