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Boxer, Brown Lead In New California Polls

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WASHINGTON - Three new California polls released yesterday show both Democrats, Senator Barbara Boxer and Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, leading their Republican opponents, mostly by comfortable margins. Meanwhile, in a day that produced more than 20 new statewide polls on U.S. Senate contests, we have new polls in three critical battlegrounds, West Virginia, Illinois and Nevada, plus three new polls in Pennsylvania.

In California, three new surveys show Barbara Boxer leading Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. The latest automated poll from Democratic affiliated Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows boxer leading nine percentage points (52% to 43%), roughly the same margin they obtained in mid-September. A first-time California survey from Suffolk University gives Boxer a ten-point lead (53% to 43%). And a new automated Fox News/Pulse survey shows Boxer leading by four (48% to 44%) - the exact same margin as their survey last week.

The new polls bump Boxer's lead on our overall trend estimate up to nearly four percentage points (47.7% to 43.9). If this statistic were based on just one poll, if would likely fall within the typical poll's margin of error, but given that five polls in the last week show Boxer leading by margins of two to ten percentage points, our model now gives Boxer a 90% probability of winning (which we still consider in the "lean" Democrat range).

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All three new polls also show Democrat Jerry Brown leading Republican Meg Whitman by comfortable margins of between 8 and 11 percentage points. Brown now leads by nearly eight percentage points (49.1% to 41.3%) on our trend estimate, enough for us to rate the Governor's race as "strong" Democrat.

[Update: A fourth new California poll released late last night by SurveyUSA shows results consistent with the other three. They show Boxer leading by five (45% to 40%), Brown leading by 12 (46% to 38%)].

Yesterday also yielded one new survey each in three critical Senate battlegrounds, West Virginia, Illinois and Nevada, each generally consistent with prior results.

In West Virginia, a new Fox News/Pulse survey shows Republican John Raese with a nominal two-point advantage (48% to 46%) over Democrat Joe Manchin. The Fox/Pulse surveys are conducted by a Rasmussen Reports subsidiary and use the same methodology. All of their polls have given Raese a nominal lead, although this latest Fox/Pulse survey yields a slightly closer margin than their surveys last week. The polls by other organizations have typically given Manchin a nominal advantage.

Our trend estimate splits the difference between the two, giving Manchin a 1.3 point advantage (47.3% to 46.0%). Our model reads that as just a 72% win probability for Manchin, which is within our "toss-up" range.

In Illinois, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) released an internal poll showing Democrat Alexi Giannoulias with a 2-point edge (38% to 36%) over Republican Mark Kirk, but also showing nearly one voter in four either undecided (15%) or expressing support for the Green (7%) or Libertarian party (4%) candidates. The result is slightly closer than the last survey from DSCC/Anzallone-Liszt, conducted roughly 10 days earlier, that gave Giannoulias with a five-point lead (41% to 36%).

The new Democratic Party poll also shows Giannoulias doing slightly better than four surveys released in the last week by Mason-Dixon, Chicago Tribune/Market Shares, Rasmussen and Fox News/Pulse, all showing Kirk with nominal leads of 2 to 3 percentage points.

Our trend estimate gives Kirk an advantage of slightly less than one point (41.8% to 41.1%), very much in "toss-up range." With the Democratic-sponsored polls excluded, Kirk's lead grows to 1.5 points (43.1% to 41.6%)

In Nevada, a new Rasmussen automated poll gives Republican Sharon Angle a four-point advantage (49% to 45%) over Democratic Senator Harry Reid, roughly the same result as Rasmussen obtained a week ago. Our trend estimate now gives Angle a slightly better than two-point advantage (48.6% to 46.2%), just enough to lift Nevada to "lean" Republican.

Finally, in Pennsylvania, we have three new results to consider: The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows a tie (46% each) between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak. A new survey from Franklin & Marshall College conducted over the last week gives Toomey a seven-point lead (43% to 36%) but yields a much bigger undecided number (19%) than other surveys. And Toomey's lead on the the latest daily tracking poll from Muhlenberg College clicks down to 5 points (46% to 41%).

Our Pennsylvania trend estimate now gives Toomey an advantage of more than two points (46.3% to 43.7%), enough to merit "lean" Republican status for now.

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