The $1 trillion in spending cuts under sequestration are emerging as a major issue in congressional races and the presidential campaign, as both parties think they have a winning hand heading into November.

The reductions in defense spending have been used in attack ads for races in military heavy states like Virginia, and President Obama and Mitt Romney traded barbs over the cuts in back-to-back foreign policy speeches this week.

The word “sequestration” certainly doesn’t roll off the tongue to voters, but campaigns in both parties are banking that the $500 billion reduction to defense spending will still hit home over national security concerns and — perhaps more importantly — the potential loss of jobs.