With the control of the Senate at stake, the maxim “all politics is local” could come roaring back in several key contests. 

Though that truism has been fading in recent years in an increasingly nationalized political environment, a number of state-specific issues — and national ones that resonate particularly strongly in some corners of the country — could matter as much as moods on ObamaCare and the economy in some places. 

Here are five local issues that are playing big roles in Senate races this year — and could help determine which party holds the Senate this fall.


North Carolina: Education 

State House Speaker Thom Tillis’s (R) active tenure in state politics has been a major campaign issue, with Democrats hammering him especially hard on education issues.

Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganPolitics is purple in North Carolina Democrats can win North Carolina just like Jimmy Carter did in 1976 North Carolina will be a big battleground state in 2020 MORE (D-N.C.) and her allies spent millions over the summer on TV ads attacking Tillis for not raising teacher pay while giving tax cuts to businesses. He recently helped push through an increase to statewide teacher pay — a nominal victory — but it came at the expense of an extended and nasty special legislative session that cost him campaign and fundraising time and hurt him in the polls. 

Democrats have pivoted to another education issue in the wake of the session, slamming him for cutting funds to the University of North Carolina system that had been used to pay for the teacher raises.

“In North Carolina, any state issues there only help Democrats. The session lasted forever for Tillis,” said one Democratic strategist involved in the race.

“Education in North Carolina is big,” conceded another national Republican.


Colorado: Fracking & Personhood 

Each Senate candidate in Colorado is struggling with a local, and controversial, issue that could hurt his chances in a tight race. 

Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D) has been put in a tough spot by ballot initiatives that would allow local communities to ban fracking and limit where fracking would be allowed throughout the state. After avoiding taking a stance for months Udall eventually came out against the two initiatives, splitting with the environmentalists whose support he needs in the race. Republican outside groups have been on the air touting Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe siren of Baton Rouge Senate confirms John Demers to head DOJ national security division Senate rejects bipartisan measure as immigration votes begin MORE’s (R) opposition and pushing Udall to take a stand.

“He's definitely in this precarious position where he gets a ton of environmental money, and as a result is trying to straddle the fence on tracking,” said one national Republican strategist of Udall. “And the majority of voters he wants to pick up support it, but he doesn't want to inflame the Boulder folks who oppose it.”

Gardner has also had to squirm on another issue: Personhood. Colorado voters will once again vote this fall on whether to give fertilized eggs the same rights as human beings, a push from anti-abortion activists that has repeatedly failed at the ballot box. 

The congressman was once a vocal supporter of the measure but has since flipped on the issue, saying he now agrees with opponents’ concerns that the law could ban not just abortion but some forms of birth control as well. Democrats have been pounding him with ads highlighting his previous support.


Alaska: Land Use

In a state where parochial issues often dominate, Democrats have been looking to highlight Alaska Senate primary front-runner Dan Sullivan’s (R) push when he was commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to streamline land permits in the state.

The push became controversial in Alaska as opponents warned that the new permitting process would bar public input on the awarding of general-use land and fishing permits, a big issue in a state where hunting and fishing are an integral part of life.

A super-PAC backing Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (D) has been airing ads attacking Sullivan for supporting “special-interest government,” spots that may be designed to hurt him in the primary with libertarian-leaning Republicans as much as in the general election.   

“The local issue we're hurt by in Alaska is that hunting bill that Begich hit Sullivan for,” said one Republican involved in the race.


Kentucky & West Virginia: Coal 

President Obama’s push for tighter coal production standards, known colloquially by opponents as his “war on coal,” has hurt Democrats throughout the region. 

The issue has given Republicans a leg up West Virginia’s open-seat Senate race and has helped Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) in his hard-fought battle against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).

McConnell and Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide MORE (R-W.Va.) have been on the air tying their opponents, Grimes and West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D), to the unpopular president on the crucial local issue; the Democrats have had to go on the air with their own ads attacking Obama and distancing themselves from the president. 

Tennant’s own ad this week showed her literally turning out the lights at the White House, warning what could happen if the state’s production was derailed and promises to stand up to the president. 

Republicans are favored in both races, and coal is a big part of why they’re ahead despite their opponents splitting with Obama.