Washington (CNN) - Republican voters are split on whether their party's leadership is taking the GOP in the right direction, according to a new national poll. The Washington Post survey released Monday also indicates that Republicans say that Sarah Palin, more than any other leader, best reflects the core values of the party.
According to the poll, 18 percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say the former Alaska governor best reflects core GOP values. In second place, 5 points back, is Sen. John McCain of Arizona, last year's Republican presidential nominee, followed by former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee at 7 percent, former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney at 6 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 4 percent and conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh at 2 percent. Other current Republican leaders were picked by 1 percent or less of those questioned in the poll.
Palin also tops the list of potential 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls. According to the poll, 17 percent of Republican voters say they'd back last year's GOP vice presidential nominee if their state's caucus or primary were being held today, with Huckabee at 10 percent, Romney at 9 percent and McCain with 2 percent support. Huckabee, Palin and Romney have topped most national surveys of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The survey indicates that nearly half the Republicans questioned think Palin's had a good effect on the party, with 1 in 5 saying she's had a bad effect and just over 3 in 10 saying she hasn't made a difference either way. One view those questioned overwhelmingly shared was their opinion of the news media's treatment of Palin: Nearly 9 in 10 respondents said reporter have treated her unfairly.
According to the poll, 49 percent of Republican voters think their party's leadership is taking the GOP in the right direction. That's down from 76 percent in 2005, early in President George W. Bush's second term. The survey indicates that 56 percent of Republicans think it's a good idea for their party to try and work with the Democrats who control Congress and the White House to try and get some GOP ideas into legislation. But far fewer want to see cooperation on health care reform: Just 23 percent say it's a good idea to work with President Barack Obama and the Democrats. More than three out of four say it's best to try and short-circuit Democratic plans entirely.
The survey also indicates that nearly 3 out of 4 Republicans think Obama does not stand for traditional American values.
According to the poll, 27 percent of respondents say Republican candidates for public office should take only conservative positions on issues - but nearly 7 in 10 feel it's ok for GOP candidates to take a moderate position on some issues. The poll's release comes as the Republican National Committee considers a draft resolution sponsored by Indiana RNC member Jim Bopp Jr. that proposes a ten-point ideological platform, and would require GOP candidates to adhere to at least seven of those points in order to qualify for financial assistance from the RNC.
The Washington Post telephone poll of 804 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents was conducted November 19-23. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn