Did Palin's position "deteriorate significantly" in WaPo/ABC poll?

The Washington Post claims that its latest polling that Sarah Palin’s polling position has “deteriorated significantly” in its latest polling, which has created two types of mail in my in-box this afternoon.  One type accuses me of not reporting the news because it’s bad for Palin, and the other accuses  me of planning to report the news because it’s bad for Palin.  The only trouble with both theories is that the poll numbers didn’t really change all that much:

Two-thirds of Americans are “dissatisfied” or downright “angry” about the way the federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they send to Washington is “wasted.”

Despite the disapproval of government, few Americans say they know much about the “tea party” movement, which emerged last year and attracted voters angry at a government they thought was spending recklessly and overstepping its constitutional powers. And the new poll shows that the political standing of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who was the keynote speaker last week at the first National Tea Party Convention, has deteriorated significantly.

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.

But nearly two-thirds of those polled say they know just some, very little or nothing about what the tea party movement stands for. About one in eight says they know “a great deal” about the positions of tea party groups, but the lack of information does not erase the appeal: About 45 percent of all Americans say they agree at least somewhat with tea partiers on issues, including majorities of Republicans and independents.

Which national politician has the most identification with the Tea Party movement?  Sarah Palin, of course, who spoke at the Tea Party Nation convention this past week.  If the Republicans and independents feel so positively about the movement that Palin supports so strongly, does it make any sense that Palin’s standing among the same people would “deteriorate significantly”?

Well, no, because it hasn’t, at least not that much.  The WaPo/ABC poll in November showed Palin’s numbers as 43/52, and the previous July at 40/53 (among adults, not registered or likely voters).  This poll has her at 37/55, drifting a bit from November but within the MOE of July’s numbers, right after she resigned as governor.  The one caveat I’d attach to that is that those earlier samples were ridiculously tilted in favor of Democrats, with 11- and 14-point gaps, while Democrats have a six-point advantage in this poll.  I’d expect to see a bump upwards with the more realistic sample, but it’s more statistical noise than a “significant deterioration of support.”

In comparison, let’s see how the Post reported Obama’s approval ratings:

Obama’s overall approval rating is holding steady, with 51 percent of respondents giving him positive marks and 46 percent rating him negatively.

Here are Obama’s approval/disapproval from the same surveys as those on Palin:

  • 2/8/10 (this week): 51/46
  • 11/15/09: 56/42
  • 7/18/09: 59/37

In the three-month period, Obama lost nine points in the gap to Palin’s nine, and in the seven-month period losing 17 points to Palin’s five.  Which person’s position has “deteriorated significantly” in that comparison?  If Palin’s is a significant deterioration, then Obama’s is a free-fall, not “holding steady.”  It appears that the Post has a much different standard for analyzing a politician who hasn’t yet committed to run for any office yet and the President of the United States, and that may be as it should — but the POTUS should be held to the higher standard.

Addendum: Happy birthday to Gov. Palin, too.

Update: I dropped in on some comment threads last night to let people know that Allahpundit is on vacation, but I figured this was a good post to use to remind everyone and let people know who hadn’t heard.  He’ll be back on Monday.