Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski's win on Tuesday was a good deal more substantial than his first for the office in 2002, when he narrowly won and carried eight of the state's 36 counties.
Kulongoski counties 2002
Kulongoski counties 2006
Those counties were Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Hood River, Lane, Lincoln, Mulnomah and Tillamook. They were barely enough to eke out a win.
In this election he won with a much bigger margin even though adding just two counties to the mix. The numerically important of those was Washington County, the state's second largest, a county trending Democratic steadily over the past 20 years and a key building block to Democratic statewide wins. It accounts for many of the gains leading to Democratic control of the state legislature. (Kulongoski nearly won it four years ago.)
Going way back, The Dalles and surrounding country is ranching, timber and resource country that has trended Republican. It had enough union base to support the Democratic surge in the mid-50s and into the 60s, but in the 70s seemed to begin joining the parade of rural counties in casting Republican-dominant votes. Only in the 90s did it occasionally, quirkily, vote for Democrats in the case of a particularly popular candidate. But in this new decade, there's been a subtle transition, and now it seems to have taken hold.