When Hillary Clinton left her post as secretary of state earlier this year, she basked in high approval ratings and positive marks from a broad segment of the public. But as Clinton transitions back from diplomat to Democrat, she has lost some of her statesman sheen.

In January, during her final month as secretary of state, Clinton was riding high in the polls with 34 percent of people holding a "very positive" view of her, and another 22 percent viewing her somewhat positively. A quarter of respondents at the time viewed her negatively.

But the public perception of Clinton has dipped notably since she returned to civilian life -- which, for Clinton, has meant a return to paid speaking engagements, fundraisers, and appearances on behalf of Democratic candidates. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 22 percent now view Clinton very positively, and another 24 percent maintain a "somewhat positive" view of her. The segment of people who perceive her negatively has climbed to roughly a third.

Clinton's positive ratings have not been so low since August 2008, shortly after she lost the Democratic presidential primary to Barack Obama following a charged, lengthy campaign.

Her slipping numbers likely can be attributed in part to Clinton's return to the political sphere, where she is more a skilled operator than a diplomat, and to the campaign trail in particular, where partisan pitfalls tend to reduce the public's opinion of all players.