Sarah Palin has hit a low point in polling, The Washington Post reports in its latest survey, but the Post also brings some good news for the Tea Party movement as it heads into the 2010 elections: it's perhaps not as far outside mainstream opinion as it's made out to be.

Palin's favorability is at its lowest point since the 2008 campaign, according to the Post/ABC's numbers: 37% view her unfavorably, while 55% view her favorably (in November the Post put her at 43% favorable, 52% unfavorable), and only 26% of respondents said she was qualified to be president (a drop of 12 percentage points since November), vs. 71% who said she's not.

The Tea Party movement, meanwhile, remains a somewhat obscure phenomenon, but it actually does better than the Republican Party in ratio of favorable views to unfavorable.

35% held favorable views of the Tea Party movement; 40% saw it unfavorably; 25% had no opinion. That bests the Republican Party (44% favorable, 52% unfavorable, 4% no opinion), when you divide favorable by unfavorable responses.

Still, a lot of people aren't familiar with the Tea Party movement: 37% say they know very little about it. But it actually enjoys decent support when people are forced to decide, as 45% said they agree with its "positions on the issues," vs. 36% who disagree and 19% who had no opinion. Perhaps those figures will move as the Tea Partiers grow in prevalence--it's hard to imagine poll respondents who know "very little" about the movement agreeing with its "positions on the issues"--but for now, as far as general impressions go, it's not doing so badly for a movement that's supposed to be, as its critics put it, marginal and extreme.

The Post and ABC polled 1,004 adults (landline and cell phone) Feb. 4-8 for the survey; margin of error was +/- 3%.

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