If Sarah Palin were a stock, these days she’d be a “sell.”

From the moment the former Alaska governor appeared on the national scene, those 21/2 years ago, she has engendered love and loathing in equal parts.

The loathing came in large part from Democrats who viewed — and still view — her as an unprepared ideologue unfit for national office.

That loathing was long offset by the ardor that Palin evoked among the Republican base. Her celebrity status was unmatched within the party, making her a seemingly dominant force if she ran for president in 2012.

No more. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Palin’s favorable rating dipping below 60 percent among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents for the first time ever. (In a Post-ABC News poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 Republican National Convention, 88 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independent viewed her favorably.)

Palin’s negative trend line has coincided with an increasing boldness within the Republican political class to say publicly what they had long whispered privately: She couldn’t win in 2012.

Ari Fleischer, a press secretary in the George W. Bush administration, said recently that he couldn’t see “any way, shape or form that [Palin] can win” the White House.

The former governor is not without strengths. Despite her falling favorable numbers, she remains among the best-known potential candidates in the party.

Presidential campaign politics are all about momentum. And although 2012 is still far off, Palin’s momentum is going precisely in the wrong direction.

Sarah Palin, for watching as your own party begins to sour on you, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington?
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