ATLANTA — Both Republicans and Democrats are looking for fresh ways to pitch old arguments as they head into the final midterm election year of Barack Obama's presidency.
Eager to capitalize as the president's job approval rating hovers in the low 40s, Republicans are looking to hammer the clumsy implementation of Obama's health care overhaul and bemoan an economy that, while improving, still grows too slowly. They're already painting Democrats as fiscally irresponsible underlings of an increasingly unpopular president whose government creates more problems than it solves.
Democrats say they'll run as the party of average Americans and paint Republicans as out-of-touch allies of the wealthy, with a stubborn streak that forced a partial government shutdown and still prevents practical solutions for national problems.
They're advocating populist positions like a minimum wage increase and an end to tax breaks for energy companies, and they're already reminding voters of Republicans' struggle to connect with women, non-whites and younger Americans.
Republicans hold the House majority, and Democrats control the Senate, so each side wants to reclaim a second chamber to end the Capitol Hill divide that has largely resulted in gridlock for the past three years.