Among the arguments posed for why Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith might be vulnerable is the changing political climate in Oregon. If he's genuinely vulnerable - as we think he is, albeit no pushover - then something would have to be different this time around. Some thing major, especially since he doesn't even have a major-party opponent yet.
A number of things are different; here we'll get into one angle of one of them, that being the changing political climate in Oregon.
That change is a large topic we'll return to periodically. For now, let's re-examine one of the markers of change since 2002, when Smith last was elected. And by itself, it suggests not a Smith death-knell but certainly cause for concern. That is the election results in the gubernatorial races in 2002 and 2006.