At the dawn of the New Year, almost two-thirds of Americans are pessimistic about the overall direction of the country, with 70 percent saying they lack confidence in the federal government to improve things in 2014, a new poll shows.

The Associated Press-GfK survey found that 63 percent of respondents believe the country is heading the wrong way, while 35 percent said it's heading in the right direction. One percent didn't answer the question.

Forty percent said they're "not very confident" the federal government "will make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014." Another 30 percent said they're "not at all confident" in the government.

State governments fared only slightly better in the poll, with a combined 53 percent saying they had little or no confidence that state governments will fix things in 2014.

As for the state of American democracy, 41 percent said it "needs a lot of changes," while 10 percent said it needs a complete overhaul. Forty-two percent said democracy in the U.S. "works well but needs some changes."

In the "big government vs. small government" debate, 50 percent of respondents said less government is better, while 48 percent said the government should be involved in more things.

On the economy, 57 percent said "we need a strong government to handle today's complex economy," while 41 percent said the "free market can handle these problems without government being involved."

The nationwide survey of 1,141 adults was taken Dec. 12-16 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.