New polls released Tuesday suggest Republicans might be on the verge of the "wave" election they need to win back control of the House and Senate.
The polls cast voters as angry with congressional incumbents, which is bad news for Democrats controlling the House and Senate.
Thirty-nine percent of registered voters, by contrast, said they want Democrats in charge when the new Congress is sworn in next year to help bolster the president's agenda.
The results suggest momentum for GOP House and Senate candidates going into this fall's elections, now less than eight weeks away.
The new surveys follow a Gallup poll released last week that showed voters prefer a generic Republican candidate by 10 points over a Democratic candidate.
Adding to Democrats woes are poll results showing registered voters prefer to send a new representative to Congress.
Fifty-six percent of registered voters said they would prefer to give a new person a chance in casting their vote this fall, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also released Tuesday, while 31 percent said their representative deserved reelection. Those results were mirrored in the ABC poll.
The dismal polls for Democrats come as the election season begins in earnest, with voter attention turning to November. President Obama is ramping up his efforts to help Democrats; he appeared Monday at a campaign-styled rally in Milwaukee to celebrate Labor Day and will travel Wednesday to Ohio, where he is to speak about the economy.
Republicans need 39 seats in the House to take control and 10 seats in the Senate — a steep, but not impossible, challenge.
The president's party generally loses seats in a mid-term election, when turnout declines from a presidential year.
Republican voters appear motivated this fall, and turnout for several GOP candidates in primaries across the country has been high. Democrats were bolstered by high turnout, particularly from black voters and young voters in 2008. A smaller proportion of those voters are expected to vote in this year's election.
Independent voters also appear to be breaking for Republicans. The Washington Post poll showed independent voters preferring Republicans by a 13-point margin.
The economy remains the biggest problem for Democrats, and the new polls show voters moving toward the GOP on the central issue of the campaign season.
Forty-six percent of U.S. adults said they trust Republicans to handle the economy over Democrats, while 43 percent of adults said they trust Democrats, by contrast, in a CNN/Opinion Research poll also released Tuesday.
Democrats, led by the president, have argued if Republicans were to return to control of Congress, it would result in a return of the unpopular policies from President George W. Bush's administration.
Several polls show Republicans remain generally unpopular with voters as well, but it's less clear that the Democratic argument that 2010 Republicans are the same as Bush-era Republicans is working.
Fifty-eight percent of registered voters told the NBC/WSJ poll that the GOP would present different ideas if they were in control of Congress, and only 35 percent said Republicans would return to Bush-era policies.
The ABC/Washington Post poll was conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 2. and has a 3.5 percent margin of error. The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Aug. 26-30 and has a 3.1 percent margin of error. The CNN/Opinion Research poll was conducted Sept. 1-2 and has a 3 percent margin of error.
This story was posted at 7:24 a.m. and last updated at 10:10 a.m.