(CNN) - Democrats in jeopardy of losing control of the Senate this year unveiled a 2014 agenda on Wednesday filled with carefully crafted language and messaging aimed at middle class voters they believe will decide many key races.
Dubbing it a "Fair Shot for Everyone," and using the words "fair" or "fairness" in as many sentences as they could, Senate Democratic leaders announced they will focus on issues like raising the minimum wage, making college and child care more affordable, and closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to hire overseas.
They will use their power as the majority party to set the Senate agenda and bring up about a bill a week through the August recess, when senators up for re-election will go home for a month of full-time campaigning.
Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November.
Most Democrats argue trying to reframe the debate by tapping into middle class frustration is the best way to fend off GOP challengers this year, many of whom will be focused on hitting Democrats on Obamacare. This agenda gives Democrats tangible legislation for debate, voting and campaigning.
Democratic strategists are banking on the fact that public anger about Obamacare isn't so much about the health care law itself, but rather an outlet for voters exasperated with a system that makes it hard to get ahead, especially middle class voters.
"I do not think ACA (Affordable Care Act) will be the number one issue. For many people, it's a surrogate. They're upset with everything that's happening, they hear all these ads, and think 'Oh it's Obamacare' but they know it isn't," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, who helped come up with this agenda.
"Most Americans want to hear something positive. 'What are you going to do for me?' Republicans are going to give them no answers on that," said Schumer.
While Schumer and other Democrats argue that national polls do not put Obamacare high on voters' priority list, Democrats also concede they must not run from attacks on the health care law as they have done in the past. In fact, many endangered Democrats are adopting the "fix it, don't end it" approach on the campaign trail.
At their news conference announcing their agenda, Senate Democrats blamed the media for being "fixated" on Obamacare much more than the public, arguing that about 85% of Americans get health care through their employer or Medicare and Medicaid, and are not directly affected by the health care law.
Democrats also argued that Republicans who took the House in 2010 campaigning against Obamacare never snatched the Senate from Democratic hands.
But a look at the 2014 map of Senate seats in play may make this year different. Half of the 21 seats Democrats are defending are on very tough terrain – in red or purple states where the repeal Obamacare message hits home with anti-government voters, even to those not directly affected by the ACA.
Still, some Republicans recognize being against Obamacare may not be enough and they, too, must also offer a "positive agenda" for voters.
House Speaker John Boehner is hoping to use his party's ability to set the House agenda to do something similar to what Democrats are doing in the Senate – offer a series of election-year bills to show voters what Republicans are for.
However, House Republicans have not settled yet on what that agenda is – especially when it comes to a hotly debated issue inside the House GOP – whether to provide and vote on a Republican alternative to Obamacare.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Boehner argued that Republicans must show voters they are the "party of better ideas" but would not say how, or when House Republicans intend to act.