WASHINGTON – A majority of self-identified Republicans favor higher taxes on wealthy Americans, according to a new ABC/Washington Post poll published Tuesday.

Fifty-four percent of Republicans support calls to raise marginal tax rates on family income higher than $250,000, as President Barack Obama called for last Wednesday in a speech.

The poll results show that the near-unanimous opposition among Congressional Republicans against tax increases of any kind might not accurately reflect the opinions of the GOP's own base.

Seventy two percent of American adults said they favor tax hikes on the rich, including 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents. Fifty-four percent of the general public strongly" supported the idea, putting Obama on the side of public opinion in his promise to end the Bush tax cuts on high income earners as scheduled at the end of 2012.

Under the proposal, even wealthy families would pay the same lower rates on the first $250,000 they make -- the higher rates would only affect income above that mark.

The issue was at the center of a fierce battle in Congress late last year, when Republicans withheld support for the Democratic push to continue the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class if the rates weren't also extended for the rich. They argued that raising taxes on the wealthy would hamper job growth during a struggling economy.

Obama reluctantly acquiesced to the demand in December, promising that he'd fight to let the high-end tax cuts expire in two years. He reiterated that pledge in his speech last Wednesday, invoking the deficit.

"We made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts," the president said. "We cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. And I refuse to renew them again."

A GOP leadership aide said the Republican victories in 2010, as well as the overwhelming public support for the tax cut deal last December, reflects public opposition to tax increases.