As Congress scrambled to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" in the final days of 2012, a majority of voters expressed pessimism about the nation's economic prospects in the new year, according to a new poll released by USA Today/Gallup.

The survey, taken between Dec. 14 and 17, was conducted about two weeks before Congress signed off on an eleventh-hour deal to temporarily avert the so-called "cliff", a combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases that was scheduled to go into effect on January 1. The deal, a two-month stopgap measure which the House of Representatives approved late on New Year's Day, extends the Bush-era tax rates for most Americans and extends long-term unemployment insurance, among other things.

According to the poll, 53 percent of Americans believe 2013 will yield full or increasing employment prospects, and 57 percent think prices will rise at a reasonable rate. Only 33 percent, however, predict a year of economic prosperity. Sixty-five percent said they anticipated a year of economic difficulty.