Fox News Poll: Perry Overtakes Romney as Top GOP 2012 Pick; Most Say Palin Should Stay Out of Race

Even as Texas Gov. Rick Perry moves into the lead as Republican voters’ preferred presidential candidate, a Fox News poll released Thursday shows that voters are more likely to view him as “too extreme” than former frontrunner Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney. In addition, most American voters -- including a majority of Republicans -- think former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin should stay out of the presidential race.

Perry receives the support of 26 percent of GOP primary voters in the new poll. That’s up from 13 percent in early August and enough to edge out Romney as frontrunner. Currently Romney captures 18 percent, down from 21 percent (August 7-9).

No other candidate garners double-digit support.

Palin receives 8 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul comes in at 7 percent. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann captures the backing of 4 percent, down from a high of 11 percent in late June. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and businessman Herman Cain also garner 4 percent each. Another 4 percent support former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, even though he has said he is not running and his name wasn’t included in the question. Giuliani and Palin are unannounced.

Click here to see the full results of the poll.

When voters are asked to pick just among the announced candidates, Perry’s receives the support of 29 percent of GOP primary voters, followed by Romney at 22 percent, and Bachmann and Paul both at 8 percent. Romney’s support has dropped 4 percentage points and Bachmann’s has dropped 5 points since the August 7-9 Fox News Poll, which was conducted before Perry officially announced his candidacy on August 13.

“Too Extreme”

The poll asked voters to name any Republican contenders they felt were “too extreme to be seriously considered.” Among all voters, Bachmann tops the list at 18 percent, followed by Perry at 14 percent, Palin at 12 percent and Paul at 10 percent. Four percent think Romney is too extreme. Responses were volunteered by respondents; a list was not read. About a third of voters (35 percent) said none were too extreme and 22 percent were unsure.

Among Republicans, Paul is seen as too extreme by 14 percent, Bachmann by 11 percent, Palin by 9 percent and Newt Gingrich by 6 percent. Five percent of Republicans think Perry is too extreme and 3 percent say the same about Romney. Some 38 percent of Republicans say none of their party’s announced or potential candidates is too extreme, and another 26 percent have no opinion.

For the key voting bloc of independents, Bachmann (19 percent), Perry (17 percent) and Palin (14 percent) are the Republican contenders most frequently mentioned as being too extreme to be seriously considered. Five percent of independents consider Romney too extreme.
Should Palin Run?

All in all, most voters -- 74 percent -- think Palin should stay on the sidelines in 2012. Just 20 percent think she should run for president.

The groups most likely to support Palin running are white evangelical Christians (30 percent) and Tea Party members (28 percent). Still, majorities of those groups do not think she should run (62 percent and 66 percent respectively). In addition, 72 percent of conservatives, 71 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents think Palin should stay out.

Women (77 percent) are a bit more likely than men (71 percent) to say Palin should sit this one out.

Just among women, Republicans (26 percent) are more likely than independents (24 percent) and Democrats (15 percent) to think Palin should run.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 911 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from August 29 to August 31. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sarah Palin is a Fox News contributor.