Fifty percent of Americans believe the country's best days are behind us, according to the findings of a USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday.
That's slightly higher than the 47 percent of respondents who have a more optimistic outlook about the country's future. The poll showed a sharp divergence in the views between Democrats and Republicans. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats said the country's best days are still ahead of us, while 74 percent of Republicans said the best days are behind us.
As USA Today notes, the country as a whole has undergone a pessimistic shift since President Barack Obama first took office:
Battered by an economy that is only slow recovering — and soured by the spectacle of Washington dysfunction in the "fiscal cliff" debate — views of the nation's future and its fundamental promise have darkened in the four years since Barack Obama's first inauguration.
Then, even during an unfolding financial crisis, Americans believed by a double-digit margin that it was likely young people would have a better life than their parents, one facet of the classic American dream.