By Nick Winnie

As public support for the war in Iraq has continued to erode in the months and weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 midterm elections, both parties have drastically shifted their campaign strategies surrounding the conflict.Democrats have put great effort into making the Iraq war the focal point of this year’s elections, using television advertisements like that of Harold Ford, Jr., the Democratic Senatorial candidate in Tennessee. In the advertisement, Ford’s Republican opponent, Bob Corker, is shown saying, "We should stay the course," while a chaotic war scene rages behind him. This phrase, once a GOP rallying cry used by President Bush and Republican Senators, has taken on an altogether different connotation in Democrats’ midterm advertisements.Politics professor Ronnie Lipschutz spoke of the Democrats’ new advantage. "The war is their leverage," Lipshutz said. "The question is whether Iraq is the focal point or Iraq is the sideshow."In six of the eight closely contested Senate races, Democrats have been running advertisements critical of their opponents’ views of the war. Conversely, Republicans have generally avoided the topic of the war in their midterm campaigns."Republicans running for Congress everywhere are putting distance between themselves and the president, often omitting their party affiliation from advertisements," said Heather Stephens, of UCSC Democrats.Both Stephens and Kelly Hayes, the president of UCSC Republicans, agree that the GOP has become more internally divided leading up to the elections as a result of Iraq policy."It is true that there is recent division in the party over the Iraq war, but the disagreements are in regard to a respectable solution," Hayes wrote to City on a Hill Press via e-mail. "The party is not calling it quits, but is trying to find the most effective way to handle the situation."When asked what the Democratic party envisions as the most effective strategy for the future of the Iraq conflict, Stephens spoke of the plan proposed by Joe Biden (D- DE) and Les Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations. The plan is "the only comprehensive strategy I’ve heard," Stephens said. It includes, most centrally, the division of Iraq into three separate Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd zones under one federal government, a more equitable distribution of oil profits between the three groups, and the eventual, complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2007.Hayes was somewhat receptive to the Biden plan. "I’m skeptically optimistic of the plan," Hayes said. "While I do not think the plan is perfect, it is a step toward resolution or at least improvement."