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Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union won a state election Sunday in their center-left rivals' traditional heartland, a stinging blow to the challenger in September's national vote.It is also the home state of Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat seeking to deny Merkel a fourth term in the Sept. 24 election. Coming on top of two previous state election flops, it was a dismal signal for the party's chances of winning back the chancellery from Merkel after 12 years.National polls show the Social Democrats trailing Merkel's conservatives by up to 10 points after drawing level earlier this year.
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