Do Americans really get what the tea party movement is about? Did Sarah Palin’s performance at last weekend’s inaugural Tea Party Convention in Nashville help or hurt her standing among her fans and would-be supporters? These may not be questions that keep us all up at night, especially in these hard times — but hey, that’s what pollsters are for.

Seems like the answers to both of our questions here would tend toward the negative, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. What’s more, the poll’s results suggest that over half of the country is quite displeased with the way the federal government is currently operating. Just bad news all around for Washington types of all stripes, in other words, but the former Alaska governor seemed to take a particular hit in terms of her public image. Note to Palin: Consider using a teleprompter, perhaps? –KA

The Washington Post:

The opening is clear: Public dissatisfaction with how Washington operates is at its highest level in Post-ABC polling in more than a decade — since the months after the Republican-led government shutdown in 1996 — and negative ratings of the two major parties hover near record highs.

[…] Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.

There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.

Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party’s presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified for the presidency, down sharply from 66 percent who said so last fall.

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