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Not to drop in on every poll that comes along, but this one feels a little notable. Could be an outlier (the possibility that warns us against too many poll notices), but – given some other recent trends – could also realistically be a marker of something new.

This is a Rasmussen poll of the Oregon Senate race, and what’s new here is that it shows Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley leading Republican incumbent Gordon Smith – the first poll to do so. It’s a marginal thing, since it gives Merkley 43% and Smith 41%, and if soft supporters are added in, they tie at 46%. But every poll up to this point has given Smith a fairly clear lead (last month’s Rasmussen put Smith ahead 47%-38%), so this is something new.

Now we watch to see if it’s the first of more like it, or not. If it indicates a change, that together with Merkley’s newly-displayed fundraising prowess could change the dynamic of the race.

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