GERALD F. SEIB --- The Wall Street Journal
Not all states are equal on Election Day, at least not equal in importance. And the four most unequal to watch Tuesday night are Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
Those states will tell us the most about the long-term meaning of this year’s voting—and about the current condition of the coalition that carried Barack Obama to the presidency twice. In each, demographic trends benefit Democrats, while Obama unpopularity benefits Republicans. This is election is about how those forces balance out.
In their quest to take back control of the Senate, Republicans seem set to start by winning some states that, by most standards, should be in their column anyway. These are places where trends have been moving toward Republicans, and where Democrats have held on mostly because some individual politician has been able to resist the tide.
In this category you can place Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota, all states Republicans seem likely to pull into their column Tuesday. Arkansas and Alaska may fit into that category. And if Republicans don’t succeed in Louisiana, it will be because of the formidable personal staying power of incumbent Democratic Sen.Mary Landrieu .
These are the states that Republicans always counted on help form the core of the six states they need to take from Democrats to win Senate control. “A lot of states where Democrats are embattled are states that Obama lost both in 2008 and 2012, making 2014 the equivalent of a road game for the Democrats,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducts the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll along with Republican Bill McInturff.