Americans are optimistic that next year will be better than this year was.

That's according to a new Associated Press-Times Square Alliance poll. Nearly half predict that 2015 will be better, while only 1 in 10 think it will be worse.

The poll shows people are divided on what were the year's most important news events. Three stories get top billing in the poll: the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, protests over the killings of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York by police officers, and the Ebola outbreak.

Few Americans rate this year's pop culture events as memorable, with one big exception: That's the death of Robin Williams and the ensuing discussion of mental health issues. About two-thirds call that a memorable event.