After a series of polls showed Meg Whitman losing ground to Jerry Brown in the California gubernatorial race, hope had begun to dim at keeping Brown from getting a third term in office 28 years after his second expired.  Rasmussen, however, shows some movement in the race.  Whitman now trails 45/49 in their final survey of the race, putting her on the outside edge of the margin of error:

With only a few days until Election Day, Democrat Jerry Brown holds a slightly smaller lead over Republican Meg Whitman in California’s gubernatorial race.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Brown picking up 49% support, while Whitman draws the vote from 45%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and three percent (3%) are still undecided.

These numbers move the race from Leans Democrat back to a Toss-Up in theRasmussen Reports Gubernatorial Scorecard.

Last week, Brown held a 48% to 42% edge over Whitman. Support for Brown, a longtime Democratic figure in the state who previously served as governor from 1975 to 1983, has steadily risen from 40% in late August. Backing for Whitman, a former CEO of eBay, has fallen slightly from a high of 48% in the same period.

For some reason, Rasmussen didn’t provide the sample data as it has done throughout the general election period this year.  Last week’s sample gave Democrats a +7 turnout model in a state where they have a +13 registration advantage.  If Rasmussen changed that model, then it may account for the shift.

A few things have changed since the last poll besides the toplines.  Barack Obama’s approval rating went from a 54/44 to a 51/49, a change of eight points in the gap.  Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a 32/67 to a 35/64, a smaller change.  Given that the current Republican governor seems to be depressing Whitman’s reach in California, any improvement would help.

One point is consistent between the two polls, which is that Brown hasn’t gotten to 50%.  That’s less meaningful in a race to fill an open seat, but it does hint that the contest could be decided with a last-minute push.  The candidate with the resources for that needs it the most — and we’ll see whether Rasmussen or anyone else got the turnout model right.