Should Eric Shinseki resign?

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

As pressure mounts on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, many Americans think he should have to resign over the VA hospital scandal, a new CBS News poll released Thursday shows.

The VA is roiled in scandal over allegations that numerous VA medical centers maintained secret waiting lists to conceal the number of patients who were not able to see doctors within a 14-day period - a goal set by Shinseki to speed up veterans' medical care.

Forty-five percent think Shinseki should have to resign, while 31 percent don't think he should, and 24 percent don't know enough to say. Republicans (56 percent) are particularly likely to say Shinseki should resign.

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Americans are also not particularly happy with Shinseki's Commander-in-Chief, President Obama, who spoke about the scandal for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday.

More Americans disapprove (45 percent) than approve (29 percent) of President Obama's handling of the problems at VA hospitals. Disapproval rises to 71 percent among Republicans.

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Americans are divided as to who they think is most to blame for the problems at Veterans Administration medical facilities, but Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and the VA (33 percent) receive more blame than either local VA hospitals (28 percent) or President Barack Obama (17 percent). About a quarter doesn't have an opinion. .

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Sixty-five percent of Americans and 61 percent of veterans think administrators at VA hospitals deliberately hid information about how long patients had to wait for medical care at these facilities. Among those who have heard or read a lot about the story, this rises to 76 percent.

Sixty-two percent of Americans believe the problems involving VA medical facilities are widespread; just 23 percent think they are limited to a few isolated incidents. Those who have heard or read a lot are particularly likely to see the problem as widespread (75 percent), as are veterans (70 percent).

Americans split as to the root cause of the long wait times for patients. Forty-two percent think the problems of long waiting times at Veterans Administration medical facilities are the result of not having enough resources to take care of patients, but 41 percent think it's more a matter of these hospitals not properly managing their resources. Republicans are more inclined than Democrats or independents to say the problems are more of a management issue.

Overall opinion of the Veterans Administration itself remains more positive than negative, though positive views have declined since last fall. Half of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Veterans Administration (an 18 point drop from the 68 percent favorable rating the Pew Research Center recorded in October 2013).

Veterans hold slightly more favorable views towards the VA than Americans overall. Fifty-six percent of veterans view the VA favorably.

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This poll was conducted by telephone May 20-21, 2014 among 1,056 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls


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