WASHINGTON (AP) _ Al Gore and George W. Bush emerged from the primary season's decisive week matched evenly in the polls, both head-to-head and in public perceptions of their skills as political leaders.

Gore, the Democrat, and Bush, the Republican, were tied in a CNN-Time poll released Friday, Gore with 48 percent and Bush with 46 percent, a difference within the poll's 3 percentage point margin of error. The two were also tied in an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released late in the week.

When registered voters were asked about the abilities of the two candidates, they were evenly matched in several categories:

_ Just over half of voters thought both were honest and trustworthy.

_ About half thought each had new ideas.

_ About half said each candidate agrees with the issues they care about.

_ Fewer than half saw Gore and Bush as people they admired.

_ Just over a third saw each as a real reformer.

More in the CNN-Time poll saw Gore as a candidate with the necessary knowledge and understanding to be president, by a 71 percent to 63 percent margin. More saw Bush as a strong and decisive leader, by 56 percent to 47 percent.

In the NBC-Journal poll, the candidates were evenly matched on having good ideas and being trustworthy. On the question of who has the right experience and ability, Gore had a 17-point advantage.

Bush led Gore by double digits in mid-January in a CNN-Time poll and in December in an NBC-Journal poll. But their standing in most national polls leveled off as Bush and John McCain fought their way through a series of contentious primaries and Gore moved past Bill Bradley to claim the Democratic spot.

The CNN-Time poll of 1,229 registered voters was taken Wednesday and Thursday and had an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The NBC-Journal poll of 621 registered voters was taken Wednesday and had an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.