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Meg Whitman loses ground in polls as Nicky Diaz controversy drags on

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Rich Pedroncelli/AP

(Read caption) California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (l.) shakes hands with Maria Elena Salinas before the start of a debate with Democrat Jerry Brown (c.) on Saturday in Fresno, Calif.

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New polls show that Meg Whitman is losing ground in the California gubernatorial race, raising questions about how her previous employment of Nicky Diaz Santillan, an illegal immigrant, as a housekeeper might be affecting the race.

Polls taken after the housekeeper story broke last week show the Republican Ms. Whitman falling behind Democrat Jerry Brown by a few percentage points. An automated poll from SurveyUSA released Monday has Mr. Brown ahead 47 to 43 percent, for instance. A Rasmussen Reports update has a slightly larger gap, with Brown up 49 to 44 percent.

Given a margin of error of 3 percentage points or so, the California contest could still be razor-edge close. But the latest surveys are significant because from late August through early September, a number of polls had showed Whitman even with Brown, or maintaining a slight lead. The new numbers, though, have caused Rasmussen to move the race from the “toss-up” column in its gubernatorial race chart, to “leans Democratic.”

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