A new poll finds that voters would narrowly prefer Republican control of Congress with just under three weeks until the midterm elections.

Among likely voters, 46 percent prefer a GOP-held Congress while 44 percent prefer a Democratic-controlled one, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday. 


Those figures are much tighter than the last midterm, where Republicans held a broader advantage. In mid-October 2010, voters preferred a Republican-controlled Congress in the same poll by seven points, 50 to 43 percent. Both sides were tied at 45 percent in the 2012 presidential election year.

Republicans need to net six seats next month to win control of the Senate, and are likely to maintain control of the House.

Registered voters said the most important issues that could affect their vote were job creation and “breaking the partisan gridlock in Washington.” But the military response to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was ranked third.

Among registered voters, 65 percent think the country is headed in the wrong direction. That figure is at its highest level ever. Only 25 percent think the U.S. is on the right track.

Despite voters' preference for a GOP Congress, Republicans had a negative image. Fifty-percent view the GOP negatively, with 27 percent having a positive image. Democrats are also underwater, at 43 percent negative to 37 percent positive.

A plurality of registered voters view their vote as independent of President Obama, though 32 percent say their vote is one against the president and 24 percent say theirs will be cast in support.

The poll of 666 likely voters was conducted Oct. 8-12 using cellphone-only respondents with a margin of error of 4 points. The survey of 1,000 registered voters had a margin of error of 3 points. 

A Gallup poll earlier this month found that voters are less motivated this election than in the past two midterm years. However, that poll found Republicans with a 19-point advantage among those most motivated to vote. That poll had a margin of error of 4 points.