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As the country heads into an election year, plenty of candidates will be asking Americans how they feel about the country’s direction.

Are we headed in the right direction? Are people better off now than they were four or eight years ago? Do they think they’re getting a fair shake in America?

PrintAfter years of economic tumult and long foreign wars, a positive outlook knows no age, apparently.

A new poll conducted for Rare found Americans over 40 and under 40 are equally optimistic about the country’s future — which is to say, not very.

Just a third of our poll respondents in both age groups said they are optimistic about the future. Among young people, 54 percent feel pessimistic about the direction of our country — that’s more than the older generation, 51 percent of whom feel pessimistic.

That general idea was consistent among party affiliations and white Americans under 40. Only among young black Americans did more people feel optimistic than pessimistic about the country’s direction — 44 percent.

Curiously, though, when asked if they are better off now than they were eight years ago, more people said yes, almost across the spectrum of race, party and age. Only among Republicans did more people say they are worse off now than they were before President Obama took office.

The poll also sought feedback about how Americans feel regarding fairness in our society. The racial and party elements of these questions can be expected to fuel ongoing debate going forward.

More young people said they feel like our culture discriminates against people like them, 47 percent said yes. The sentiment was even clearer among young blacks (75 percent) and most Democrats (53 percent).

FINAL Rare_Poll 1 Charts FUTURE

Over the next several days, we’ll explore 24 questions in-depth, taking a close look at the difference between age groups while also weighing key demographic differences such as political party, race and education. It’s also an opportunity to revisit the previous Rare Under 40 poll, which found young people hold surprising views on Obama, marijuana, God and more.

This Rare survey was conducted by Gravis Insights between April 27 and May 5. A total of 2,261 registered voters of all ages were interviewed about several issues using landlines, cellphones and Internet panels. Overall, the poll has a margin of error of ±2 percentage points and was weighted by select demographic characteristics.

How would you answer these questions?

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