Judson Berger --- Fox News
The rise of the Islamic State threat has, in a matter of weeks, turned the 2014 midterm election on its head, leaving Democrats and Republicans alike scrambling to show their hawkish side on national security and terrorism -- shelving for now the partisan sparring over ObamaCare, and the multiple scandals that dominated headlines and threatened to define the Obama administration.
With just nine weeks to go before voters decide the makeup of the next Congress, ISIS, Ukraine, Gaza and Boko Haram have supplanted the IRS, Benghazi, NSA data-gathering and the VA on the lips of candidates -- and the minds of voters.
The result is a race that's looking much different than the last off-year midterm cycle. Four years ago, Fox News polled voters on their top issues at the ballot box -- the economy was at the top, and Iraq was at the bottom.
While the economy still matters, recent polling shows voters want a tougher approach to foreign policy, as Islamic State militants ravage northern Iraq and Syria and threaten western interests.
Candidates are giving it to them. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who faces a Republican challenge from former GOP chairman Ed Gillespie in November, on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to present a "clear strategy" for "eliminating" the Islamic State threat.
"The United States should not take any military options off the table, because stopping ISIL is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S. and our European allies," Warner said in a statement.
The sudden focus on foreign policy poses a challenge for both parties.
Republicans, who have been pulled in an isolationist direction by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and budget-minded Tea Party groups, are adjusting their tone. Even Paul, while saying President Obama must make his case for military action to Congress, told Fox News on Wednesday that the terror group has "absolutely" declared war on America. (And for the record, Paul says he is not an "isolationist".)
For Democrats, the focus on the Middle East allows candidates to -- at least briefly -- get off the defensive on ObamaCare and administration controversies ranging from Benghazi to IRS targeting.