Has Sarah Palin peaked? Poll numbers sag, and she's taking GOP friendly fire.

It has been a tough couple of days for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Her favorability ratings among GOP voters have slipped, a new poll shows, and fellow Republicans are taking pot shots.

By , Staff writer

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    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin smiles at a meeting and luncheon in Woodbury, N.Y., on Feb. 17.

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It has been a tough couple of days for former Alaska governor and Fox News commentator Sarah Palin.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll, released Wednesday, found that Ms. Palin’s favorability ratings among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have dropped to a new low. Fifty-eight percent of those voters still view her favorably – not exactly shabby, by most standards. But compared with the 88 percent favorable rating she enjoyed right after Sen. John McCain picked her as his running mate in 2008 – and even the 70 percent positive rating she enjoyed as recently as October – Palin is definitely on a downward slide.

Even more troubling for Palin, especially if she harbors presidential ambitions, is that her negative ratings among Republicans are higher than those for other possible GOP presidential contenders. Thirty-seven percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners see Palin unfavorably, the ABC News survey said. That exceeds former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s unfavorable ratings by 11 percentage points, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s by 16 points, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s by 19 points.

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Support among Republicans is especially crucial for Palin given her standing with the general public. An ABC News/Post poll in December found that 59 percent of all likely voters would not consider voting for her for president.

“The results indicate continued challenges for Palin in public opinion,” Gary Langer wrote on the ABC News blog The Numbers. Mr. Langer provides public opinion polling and analysis to ABC News.

The poll slippage comes at a time when Palin's fellow conservatives are taking political pot shots at her. On Monday, former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg wrote in The Hill newspaper that a presidential primary season in which there is no clear front-runner could help Palin. He added, “Although she is not viewed by most as strong enough to win, she is viewed by many as a person worth voting for to make a statement.”

In addition, several well-known conservatives criticized Palin in an article published Monday on the website Politico. Weekly Standard magazine writer Matt Labash told the website that Palin is "becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition" due to her "appeals to victimhood and group grievance." The same article quoted veteran conservative columnist George Will on Palin’s potential effect on an idea-driven conservative movement. Could the GOP remain the party of ideas if Palin were the presidential nominee? “The answer is emphatically no,” Mr. Will told Politico.

And Peter Wehner, former director of the Office of Strategic Initiatives in the White House of George W. Bush, added: “She seems at best disinterested in ideas or lacks the ability to articulate any philosophical justification for them. She relies instead on shallow talking points.”

When asked in December on a Fox News program about criticism that her appearances on a Discovery Channel reality show did not seem presidential, Palin replied sarcastically, “Oh, I’m sorry that I’m not so hoity-toity.”

Of course, sagging poll numbers and sniping from fellow Republicans won't matter if Palin decides not to run for president. So far, she is maintaining her lucrative speaking schedule and has not said whether she will run.

This week she heads to India, not Iowa, to deliver a speech.

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