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Poll: Americans hopeful for a better year in 2014

happy new year   party...

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ready to ring in the new year, Americans look ahead with optimism, according to a new AP-Times Square New Year's Eve poll. Their ratings of the year gone by? Less than glowing.

What the public thought of 2013:

GOOD YEAR OR GOOD RIDDANCE?

On the whole, Americans rate their own experience in 2013 more positively than negatively, but when asked to assess the year for the United States or the world at large, things turn sour.

-All told, 32 percent say 2013 was a better year for them than 2012, while 20 percent say it was worse and 46 percent say the two years were really about the same. Young people were more apt to see improvement: 40 percent of people under age 30 called 2013 a better year than 2012, compared with 25 percent of people age 65 or older.

-The public splits evenly on how the year turned out for the country, 25 percent saying it was better than 2012, 25 percent saying it was worse. As with most questions about the state of affairs in the U.S. these days, there's a sharp partisan divide. Democrats are more apt to say the U.S. turned out better in 2013 than 2012 (37 percent) than are Republicans (17 percent).

-Thinking about the world at large, 30 percent say 2013 was worse than 2012, while just 20 percent say it was better.

But the outlook for the new year is positive: 49 percent think their own fortunes will improve in 2014, 14 percent are anticipating the new year to be a downgrade from the old. Thirty-four percent say they don't expect much to change.

WHERE'S THE PARTY?

Most Americans - 54 percent - say they'll be ringing in the new year at home, while 1 in 5 are heading to a friend's or family member's house. Only 8 percent say they'll go to a bar, restaurant or other organized event.

-Younger Americans are least apt to spend the holiday at home: 39 percent of those under age 30 will celebrate at home, 33 percent at someone else's home, 13 percent at a bar or other venue.

-Regardless of their own time zone, nearly 6 in 10 say they'll watch at least some of the celebration from New York City's Times Square.

COUNTDOWN COMPANIONS

Wherever they're spending the holiday, most Americans prefer the company of family. Asked with whom they want to be when the clock strikes midnight, 83 percent name a family member.

-On a holiday often sealed with a kiss, nearly 4 in 10 say they most want to be next to their spouse, and 13 percent cite a significant other or romantic interest as a preferred companion. Parents like to be with their children, more than the children like to be with their parents.

-Less conventional choices: 2 percent cite their pets, 3 percent God, Jesus or their religious congregation, and less than 1 percent said they wanted to ring it in with their co-workers.

-Of course, some opt out altogether: 18 percent say they're not planning to celebrate on New Year's Eve, and 9 percent say there's no one with whom they'd like to party, preferring instead their pillow, TiVo or their own thoughts.

WHAT MATTERED IN NEWS

The implementation of the health care law topped the list of the most important news stories of 2013, with 26 percent citing it. In an Associated Press survey of news directors and editors, 45 of 144 journalists surveyed called the health care rollout their top story.

In the AP-Times Square poll, the death of Nelson Mandela occurred as the poll was underway. It rose quickly, with 8 percent naming it as the most important news of the year, matching the share citing the federal government's budget difficulties or shutdown.

The budget fight, which led to a partial shutdown of the federal government in October, was rated extremely or very important by 60 percent of Americans, and prompted rare bipartisan agreement. About two-thirds in each major party, 65 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats, rated it highly important.

A majority said the Boston Marathon bombings were extremely or very important, and 47 percent considered the national debate over gun laws that important.

POP CULTURE: MOSTLY FORGETTABLE MOMENTS

Miley Cyrus's MTV Video Music Awards performance. The launch of "Lean In." Apologies from Paula Deen and Lance Armstrong. Walter White's exit and the entrance of the Netflix series "House of Cards." What do they all have in common? More Americans say these pop culture moments were more forgettable than memorable.

Just one pop culture moment was deemed more memorable than forgettable: The birth of Prince George to Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate.

-Among men, 64 percent called the debate on work-life balance sparked by the book "Lean In" and other writings forgettable. About half of women agreed.

-About 1 in 5 younger Americans said the launch of original programming through streaming services like Netflix or Hulu was a memorable moment, about doubling the share among those age 50 and up.

-Residents of the West were more likely than others to consider memorable the San Francisco "Batkid" (31 percent) or the final season of the series "Breaking Bad" (19 percent).

The AP-Times Square New Year's Eve Poll was conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications from Dec. 5-9 and involved online interviews with 1,367 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, a probability-based Internet panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly, using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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danabnnc December 30 2013 at 5:05 PM

2013 was the worst year of my life. I lost my heart dog this past July and my other little heart dog this past September. 2013 sucked!!!!

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GARY December 30 2013 at 12:04 AM

2013 was a terrible year because of all the shameful atrosities they let obama get away with, and it will get worse in 2014, so much for happy new year, wait until you see what this man will do to us in 2014. He thrives on executive orders, more than any other president in the history of our country. He is such a disgrace and a fraud with his muslim faith.

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truckers.wife December 29 2013 at 10:37 PM

I don't recall the poll asking if 2013 was better than 2012. As I recall, the question posed was whether or not you're ready for this year to be over with. And as I recall, most of the responses were very anti-2013 and most of those responses blamed Obama. Funny (and typical) of HuffPo to twist things

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Hitechceo December 29 2013 at 2:30 PM

2013, the year of the Democrats and Republicans. Not the people. Everyone of them should be on the unemployment line come election day. It's time to take back this country and our lives from these pot lickers. Anyone who has a "Dem" or "Rep" following their name will not get a vote from me. Hope you do the same.

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Linda December 29 2013 at 1:56 PM

What will make 2014 a better year is replace EVERY SINGLE Member of the Government in Washington, D.C.

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frank1946 December 27 2013 at 4:17 AM

The Year of the Big Liar !

Strongmen are always Weak.

Or Worse !

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HIGHPOWER December 27 2013 at 1:05 AM

As long as redistribution of wealth is the PRIMARY objective of this administration the lies will have to continue, the fights over the staggering 17 trillion $ debt will have continue, the failed forgein policy will continue. 2013 was bleak for America and 2014 looks even worse if we don't have a change of policy. I have seen a real recovery, I have seen a united America, I have seen a thriving economy, I have seen a happy America and this is not what it looks like.

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kwpl December 27 2013 at 12:32 AM

Except for my daughter's wedding, 2013 sucked!

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nasknit December 27 2013 at 3:55 AM

I didn't even have a family wedding to bring joy! 2013 Sucked, BIG Time!

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bbcr50 December 27 2013 at 12:27 AM

Ugg...2013 sucked !! The country is heading for "more of the S..O..S. Not any better off than last year. Not much hope for a change. The haves will have more and the have nots will have less. What's bad is....NO ONE CARES in our government ! So saddle up everyone....it's the same ol rodeo !

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joliemarot December 26 2013 at 11:59 PM

2013 was a rather upside down year- mostly disappointed with our govt. and that is never going to change until these 'lifers' are replaced by people who actually care about America and it's citizens. Don't know if 'politician' and 'caring' can actually be used in the same sentence. Hopefully 2014 will be better-we can always hope and do our bit to make it so.

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