Republicans are more optimistic than Democrats that they will improve their standing in the 2014 midterm elections, according to a new poll. 

A Pew Research-USA Today poll released Friday found 55 percent of Republicans think their party will do better than in previous elections.

In comparison, 43 percent of Democrats said they would do better than in recent elections. 

Republicans held a wide advantage in that number heading into the 2010 midterms, when they won control of the House. 

The gap ahead of the 2014 midterms has narrowed considerable, though the GOP again enjoys an advantage.

Before the 2010 elections, 72 percent of Republicans thought they would improve from past elections, while only 29 percent of Democrats thought the same.  

Fifty-three percent of Republicans are eager about the midterm elections, while 47 percent of Democrats are looking forward to them.

Democrats, however, fare better on a generic congressional ballot test. Forty-eight percent of people say they would vote for a Democratic candidate, while 44 percent say they would pick a Republican. 

Democrats took a doubled-digit lead on the generic ballot test during the government shutdown in October. But that number has evened out since then. 

Democrats would need to net 17 seats to win back control of the lower chamber, a tall order in an off-year election when Democrats hold the presidency.

Democrats made modest gains in 2012, but failed to regain control of the House. Most forecasters predict Republicans will make gains in 2014. 

The poll surveyed 1,579 registered voters and has a 2.9 percentage point margin of error.