American voters are as ready to dump incumbent lawmakers as they were just before they handed control of Congress to Republicans in 1994, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday.

Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, stand to lose the most in the November elections because of strong anti-incumbent sentiment and they trail Democrats in support among registered voters, the poll showed.

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed called themselves "anti-incumbent" — nearly the same as the 54 percent who identified themselves as such in the summer of 1994 when Congress was still under the Democrats’ control.

While the percentage of anti-incumbent Republicans was lower in the poll than the percentage of anti-incumbent Democrats in 1994 (33 percent versus 46 percent), the share of anti-incumbent independents rose to 61 percent from 57 percent in 1994.

The telephone poll, which has a 3 percentage point margin of error, was taken between August 3 and August 6 among 1,002 adults.

Among registered voters, 52 percent said they would support the Democrat in their congressional district if the election were held today. Only 39 percent said they would vote for the Republican, the poll showed.

Republicans are being hurt by Americans’ anti-war sentiment, the poll showed. Thirty-eight percent of those polled said they would be more likely to oppose a candidate who supports President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy, compared with only 23 percent who would back such a candidate.

But the poll also showed that Democrats have yet to win over Americans, who remain evenly split on whether the party offers the country a clear direction that differs from that offered by Republicans.

© 2006 Reuters