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Are Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer inching ahead in California ... or not?

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Justin Kase Conder/AP

(Read caption) Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman addresses the audience during a fundraising event in Fresno, Calif., Friday. She has suggested that a new poll that shows her trailing Democrat Jerry Brown by 5 points is inaccurate.

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One of the rare bright spots for Democrats these days is in California.

Polls in both the Senate and gubernatorial race are showing Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown beginning to gain ground on their Republican opponents, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman.

The good news for Mr. Brown, the former California governor and a fixture in state Democratic politics, comes on the eve of his first debate against Ms. Whitman, the former eBay CEO.

But Whitman has already taken issue with one of the polls gaining the most attention, a new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll that shows Brown holding a 49 to 44 percent advantage over Whitman among likely voters.

In a memo on her website, Whitman says that “there is strong evidence” that the Times/USC poll undersampled Republicans, and notes that the California Field poll – conducted at the same time, and showing a tie between Brown and Whitman – offers a much different picture of the partisan landscape in California.

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