(CNN) - With little more than a month to go before Election Day, Democrats in the Rust Belt and elsewhere are latching onto a strategy they believe will help deflect voter criticism over the sluggish economy: accusing opponents of helping to outsource jobs.
At least 26 Democratic candidate or committee-sponsored ads about outsourcing have aired in hotly contested races since the beginning of September, according to a CNN count.
Earlier this month, the ads were focused in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Now, however, they've made their way to the coasts, from California to South Carolina. Phrases such as "ship our jobs overseas," "sent jobs to China," and "outsourcing jobs" are now common refrains in closely contested districts and states nationwide.
"Democrats are still looking for a message," said Evan Tracey, head of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. "Their signature issue has been health care, and the fact is, they have passed a bill and lost the issue."
Anything Democrats "can tie Republicans to, whether it's free trade or tax credits, they're going to," Tracey added. "Trade is part of their core message to labor and outsourcing jobs. They're banking on getting the economically worried independent voters and the base fired up."
Potentially aiding the Democratic effort: Senate Republicans on Tuesday successfully blocked a bill from coming to the Senate floor that Democrats claim would help keep American jobs from going overseas.