iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — When President Obama travels to Illinois this week to speak in front of the state legislature, it will be nine years to the day since he announced his bid for the presidency from the same spot.
“By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail,” Obama said in 2007 to the thousands of supporters gathered that blisteringly cold Saturday in Springfield. “But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.”
Obama's nostalgic return to Springfield comes with a bittersweet reality check: by his own admission in his final State of the Union address last month, those hopes of a unified country during his tenure have failed to materialize.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency,” Obama said. “That the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.”
Nowhere is that divide felt more viscerally than where Obama began his legislative career.
“This is an unprecedented time for Illinois,” said David Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. “The bond rating is the worst in the country. There’s no budget. It’s grim times financially in the state and there’s a crisis going on in Chicago.”
The visit also comes the day after a decisive victory in New Hampshire for Sen. Bernie Sanders. Similar to Obama in 2008, Sanders has found popularity campaigning against Hillary Clinton with a populist message and his early rejection of the invasion of Iraq.
Yepsen said that while no reliable polls have been produced in Illinois to get a read of how the state's voters feel between Sanders and Clinton, income inequality continues to be a chief concern in the state.
The state could also be a crucial test to see whether Illinois voters will again connect to the candidate promising change by upending the “establishment.” Though a bleak editorial headline out Tuesday from the Chicago Tribune previewing Obama’s visit reads “No Hope Of Change In Illinois.”
“There’s going to be, in both parties, a primary that means something,” Yepsen said, noting that the state’s March primary often takes place when the Republican and Democratic fields are already settled.
According to the White House, President Obama’s message to the Illinois General Assembly will be “about what we can do, together, to build a better politics — one that reflects our better selves.”
Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile said a reflection of Obama’s presidency shows a nation ready to move forward on progress already made in the nine years since Obama’s announcement.
“Bringing an economy back from the brink, providing millions access to health care, keeping the American auto industry alive, climate change, Iran accords, and much, much more,” Brazile said. “Americans are no longer looking in the rear view mirror, we turned a page, and it's time to write a new chapter."
ABC News(NEW YORK) — A powerful pushback against the established political order lifted Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders alike in New Hampshire, underscoring deep splits both within and between the Republican and Democratic parties.
Trump was boosted to victory by broad support among voters seeking a political outsider, anger at the federal government, strong worry about the economy and terrorism and substantial backing for some of his controversial proposals. He did best with less-educated voters, those looking for blunt talk and those who see better days ahead – classic elements of a populist movement.
Sanders, for his part, crushed Clinton on the personal attributes of honesty and empathy, whaled among independents and liberals and won young voters – including young women – by extraordinary margins. He prevailed by a vast 70-29 percent among voters focused on income inequality and ran very close with Clinton in two of her strongholds – mainline Democrats and nonwhites, as rare as the latter are in New Hampshire.
The question is where Sanders goes from here. While off their peak for New Hampshire, independents accounted for 40 percent of voters in the Democratic primary, far more than is customary in other states. Just 7 percent were nonwhites – a group likely to exceed half the Democratic electorate in South Carolina on Feb. 20. And a record 69 percent in New Hampshire were liberals, turnout that, again, may be hard to replicate.
Trump’s performance may be less difficult to repeat; while his support peaked among particular groups, he showed strength across the board, winning mainline Republicans and independents; men and women; and conservatives, as well as running competitively among moderates. Still, as in Iowa, he was weak among voters focused on a candidate who “shares my values,” an attribute that may gain salience elsewhere, especially in Southern states where evangelicals predominate.
What remains to be seen on the GOP side is whether the two-thirds of Republicans who didn’t back Trump coalesce around another candidate – perhaps as the field narrows – or remain fragmented. For the Democrats, it’s whether Clinton can pull herself up in the party’s mainstream, sharpen her appeal to young voters and overcome her longtime weakness on honesty and the common touch.
A detailed summary of exit poll results follows, analyzed for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. The Republican Race
Among Trump’s accomplishments was appealing to a New Hampshire electorate that was far more conservative than usual for the state. A record 71 percent of GOP voters were conservatives, up dramatically from 53 percent in the 2012 primary. Trump won 36 percent of all conservatives and 35 percent of very conservatives, the latter 14 points better than in Iowa.
Most fundamental was his appeal as a disrupter: Half of GOP voters said they wanted an outsider rather than a candidate with political experience; 61 percent in this group backed Trump. (The next closest was not close – Ted Cruz, at just 10 percent).
Trump benefited from anger and apprehension, as well. Four in 10 said they were angry with the Obama administration, seven in 10 were very worried about the economy and six in 10 very worried about terrorism. Trump won 42 percent, 38 percent and 39 percent in these groups, respectively.
Further, reflecting Trump’s resonance on a controversial policy, 64 percent of Republican voters supported his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. He won 44 percent of their votes. Fewer, but still four in 10, supported deporting undocumented immigrants; in this group Trump won 50 percent.
Trump’s blunt-spokenness was another source of strength. A quarter of Republican voters said they were chiefly looking for a candidate who “tells it like it is”; Trump’s single best group, he won 65 percent of their votes. He also won 36 percent of those focused on a candidate who can “bring needed change.”
As in Iowa, Trump did much less well among voters looking for the candidate who “shares my values,” winning just 13 percent in this group – and it was the most-cited candidate attribute, selected by slightly more than a third of voters. Last on the list was electability, tops to barely more than one in 10 – a group Trump split with Marco Rubio.
Trump was notably strong among voters who haven’t gone beyond high school, winning 46 percent of their votes. His support fell as education increased, to 23 percent among voters with a post-graduate education – though he was highly competitive even in that group.
Trump did well in one further group – winning 44 percent of those who said they’re optimistic about life for the next generation of Americans. Successfully combining deep discontent with current conditions, an outsider image and optimism for a better future are powerful elements of populism – making them well worth watching as the campaign proceeds.
As for the distant second-place finisher, John Kasich looked like Trump’s opposite in many respects. His best groups included those who oppose banning Muslims or deporting undocumented immigrants, moderates, more-educated voters, those who are “somewhat” rather than very worried about the economy and terrorism, who are dissatisfied rather than angry with the federal government and those focused on experience rather than an outsider.
Among these, a substantial 45 percent preferred a candidate with political experience – and Kasich got 28 percent in this group, followed by Bush and Rubio, with 20 and 18 percent, respectively.
A third of Republican voters opposed Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States; Kasich won this group, with 27 percent support. Kasich virtually tied Trump among moderates and liberals, 29 percent of the electorate (almost all of them moderates) – 31 percent for Trump, 29 percent for Kasich. But Kasich’s support plummeted among conservatives, to 11 percent, and they accounted for seven in 10 voters.
While Trump peaked among less-educated voters, Kasich followed the opposite pattern. He did best, 22 percent, among post-graduates, and worst, 9 percent, among those who haven’t gone beyond high school.
Nearly half of GOP voters decided in just the last few days, and Kasich was competitive with Trump in this group – 22 percent for Trump, 21 percent for Kasich. Trump, though, did much better with early deciders.
Finally, beyond vote preferences, Kasich finished second to Trump in trust to handle the economy – 40 percent picked Trump, 19 percent picked Kasich. Far as that was from Trump, it left Kasich with bragging rights over the rest of the field.
In the scrum for third place, Cruz’s best groups were strong conservatives, evangelicals and values voters – just as in Iowa. But there were fewer of them in New Hampshire, and they tilted less strongly to Cruz. Rubio did his best on electability and experience, and among voters younger than 45. Jeb Bush likewise did his best among voters focused on experience, but trailed Kasich in this group. The Democratic Race
Sanders, as noted, prevailed in New Hampshire by way of his broad advantages on honesty and trustworthiness and empathy, as well as with support from an unusually liberal electorate. He beat Hillary Clinton among women as well as men, and split mainline Democrats with her while broadly winning independents.
As noted, Sanders also won by a huge margin among voters chiefly focused on income inequality, his signature issue – 32 percent of Democratic voters, they backed him by 70-29 percent.
As in Iowa, liberals showed up in force, accounting for 69 percent of Democratic voters, a record in New Hampshire. They backed Sanders by 60-39 percent.
Sanders won women by 55-44 percent, as well as prevailing far more widely among men, 66-32 percent. Sixty-nine percent of women under 45 backed Sanders (including 79 percent of women under 30), while Clinton won women 45 and older, by a comparatively narrow 53-46 percent.
Among all voters under age 30, Sanders beat Clinton by a huge 83-16 percent margin, another result similar to Iowa.
Also as in Iowa, Sanders won independents by a vast margin – 47 points, 72-25 percent. Unlike Iowa, he was competitive among mainline Democrats as well; they split, 52-48 percent, Sanders-Clinton.
Clinton’s challenges were perhaps most clearly revealed on candidate attributes. Six in 10 Democratic voters were most focused on the candidate who’s most honest and trustworthy (34 percent) or “cares about people like me” (26 percent) – and they backed Sanders overwhelmingly, by 91-5 and 82-17 percent, respectively.
Just more than a quarter of Democratic voters – half as many as in the GOP race – said they wanted an outsider. But they backed Sanders, again by a whopping margin, 86-7 percent.
While Clinton benefited from Obama’s coattails in Iowa, he was less helpful to her in New Hampshire. Forty-two percent said they want a president who is more liberal than Obama, and those voters backed Sanders by 81-18 percent.
Sanders also won big among those who are struggling financially, who are very worried about the economy, who think life for the next generation will be worse than it is today and who are dissatisfied with the federal government.
Clinton, for her part, did best among voters focused on experience (85-15 percent), electability (79-19 percent) and among those who want to see Obama’s policies continued (62-37 percent). But she only split the vote with Sanders among those who wanted an experienced politician (50-49 percent). Seniors were a comparatively strong group for Clinton – she beat Sanders 55-44 percent among those 65 and older.
One good way to see these differences is in a profile of each candidate’s support. Consider:
Sixty-five percent of Clinton's supporters want Obama-like policies to continue. Fifty-six percent of Sanders backers want more liberal policies.
Seventy percent of Sanders’ supporters have a negative view of the government, and 21 percent feel “betrayed” by Democratic politicians. The comparable numbers for Clinton are just 45 and 4 percent.
Forty-eight percent of Sanders’ backers are independents, compared with 27 percent of Clinton’s.
More than half of Sanders’ supporters pick honesty (52 percent) as the key candidate attribute; more than half of Clinton's pick experience (57 percent).
Sixty percent of Clinton’s supporters think Sanders is too liberal; 48 percent of Sanders’ supporters think Clinton is not liberal enough.
Just 8 percent of Clinton’s backers are under 30, vs. 26 percent of Sanders’.
Lastly, whites – 93 percent of the electorate – backed Sanders by 61-37 percent. Nonwhites divided, 50-49 percent, Clinton-Sanders. To prevail beyond New Hampshire, doing better among nonwhites – and in states where there are more of them – will be key for Clinton. So, though, is her need to broaden and deepen her appeal to discontented Democratic groups – and to address the persistent doubts about her honesty and empathy that, in New Hampshire and nearly in Iowa, gave Sanders the opening he needed.
iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- ABC News projects Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will win the New Hampshire Democratic primary, based on exit poll data and vote analysis.
Sanders led former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in recent polls in the Granite State and following a close race in Iowa between the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, which Clinton barely won, both campaigns ramped up their attacks in New Hampshire.
The Sanders campaign invested heavily in the Granite State and aggressively advertised on televisions from the north to the suburban Boston enclaves in southern New Hampshire.
In a state that values retail politics, both Clinton and Sanders spent time knocking on doors and greeting patrons at local coffee shops in the days leading up to the primary. But no matter how many selfies Clinton took or country roads she crisscrossed, she was unable to catch the Vermont senator.
According to preliminary exit polls, Democratic primary voters ranked “honesty” and “trustworthiness” as the most important candidate attributes. Far more voters polled recognized those values in Sanders than Clinton.
In New Hampshire, Clinton was on the defensive.
The Sanders campaign pressed Clinton on her Wall Street connections, calling into question her ability to separate corporate from public interests. Out on the trail, Sanders presented himself as an underdog who is not beholden to pressures from big banks.
In an interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Clinton directly addressed attacks by Sanders. “I have never, ever been influenced in a view or a vote by anyone who has given me any kind of funding,” Clinton said.
During her first presidential campaign in 2008, Clinton was able to successfully win the New Hampshire primary against another candidate with widespread support among young people -- then Senator Barack Obama.
iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Donald Trump is projected to win the New Hampshire Republican primary, based on exit poll data and analysis of the vote that's in so far and the GOP frontrunner lauded the victory in a raucous speech.
ABC News projects that Ohio Governor John Kasich will finish second and third place is currently a three-person race between Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
Based on the exit polls, ABC News also projects Chris Christie to finish in sixth place, Carly Fiorina is expected to come in seventh and Ben Carson eighth.
Trump kicked off his victory speech by thanking his family, including his parents, siblings, children and wife, Melania, who he said was supportive "right from the beginning."
"If you run, you know you're going to win," Trump said his wife told him "on day one."
Trump's numbers were lifted in New Hampshire by broad support among voters seeking a political outsider, anger at the Obama administration and strong worry about the economy and terrorism, along with substantial backing for some of his controversial policy proposals, exit polls indicate.
The business mogul reiterated the issues he plans to work on as president, including installing a wall to separate the southern border from Mexico, building up a "strong" and "powerful" military to fight ISIS and creating a better economy and more jobs.
"I'm going to be the greatest jobs president that god ever created," Trump said. "Remember that."
The business mogul did particularly well among voters looking for a candidate who "tells it like it is," and among those with less education. He also appealed to a New Hampshire electorate that was far more conservative than usual for the state. He did better among strong conservatives and evangelicals than he did in Iowa.
Nearly half of the Republican voters said they're looking for a candidate “outside the political establishment,” a sentiment that boosted Donald Trump's numbers in both Iowa and national polls, according to exit poll figures. Trump won 57 percent of this group in New Hampshire.
Two-thirds of Republican voters said they support Trump's proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. He won 42 percent of their votes, according to exit polls.
Four in 10 voters said they support undocumented immigrants, 46 percent of which said they supported Trump.
Seven in 10 of Republican voters said they're "very" worried about the economy. Of them, Trump got 35 percent of their support.
One-fifth of voters said they were looking for a candidate who "tells it like it is." Trump won 63 percent of their support, exit polls indicated.
Trump also got the support of 34 percent of voters who were focused on "change."
Google trends indicated that Kasich was the top-searched GOP candidate in New Hampshire Tuesday.
Kasich's best groups include those who oppose banning Muslims or deporting undocumented immigrants, according to exit polls He's also doing well among moderates, more-educated voters and those who are "somewhat" rather than "very" worried about the economy and terrorism.
The turnout by evangelicals was lower in New Hampshire than in Iowa, where they were key in Cruz's first-place finish, exit polls indicated.
Jeb Bush spent nearly $30 million in ads in New Hampshire, accounting for about 41 percent of all Republican spending in the state, according to Kantar Media.
Republican voters picked their desired candidate late in the game, with nearly half of primary voters saying they finally picked their candidate only within the last few days, according to the New Hampshire exit poll results. Fewer Democrats were later deciders, about two in 10.
Nine in 10 GOP voters are either dissatisfied or angry about the way the government is working, according to exit poll figures.
The Republican primary in South Carolina will take place Feb. 20.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CONCORD, N.H.) -- Celebrating his projected New Hampshire primary win, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders thanked voters in the Granite State for sending a “profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment.”
“What the people here have said is that given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for the same old, same old establishment politics and establishment economics,” the self-described Democratic socialist told a raucous crowd in Concord, New Hampshire. “The people want real change.”
After playing basketball with his grand-kids at the Concord High School gym, Sanders relished his victory against rival Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, inside a packed room of supporters.
“We won because of your energy,” he said. “Thank you all so much.”
Before Sanders took the stage, his supporters chanted “We don’t need no super PAC, Bernie Sanders got our back!”
In nearby Hooksett, Clinton delivered a concession speech that she started by congratulating Sanders.
"I know I have a blessed life, but I also know what its like to stumble and fall,” she said. “Its not whether you get knocked down that matters it's whether you get back up.”
Clinton also acknowledged that she has work to do among young voters who have been flocking to Sanders.
“Even if they are not supporting me now,” she said, “I support them.”
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Obama administration's signature plan to address climate change.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to stay the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's push to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, while an appeals court considers a challenge to the rule.
Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan voted against the stay.
In a statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, he said the White House disagreed with the decision and they were "confident that [they would] prevail on the merits."
"The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives States the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change," said the statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called the Supreme Court's decision “deeply misguided."
"The Supreme Court’s deeply misguided decision to stay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan will enable those states that deny climate science to slow progress in reducing the carbon pollution that threatens the health of all Americans," she said in a statement.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, NH.) -- Some two-thirds of Republican voters in New Hampshire expressed support for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, an idea espoused by Donald Trump, who was projected to win the state's primary.
Trump had called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States back in December.
"Mr. Trump stated, without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine," Trump said in a statement Dec. 7. "Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life."
Exit polls show show that in addition to support for Trump's proposal, four in 10 say undocumented immigrants should be deported.
In response to Trump’s calling for a halt to Muslim entry into the US, a number of his presidential rivals said they did not agree with his proposal.
iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- New Hampshire voters have been flocking to the polls all day – and they’re still coming even though most polls are either closed or will close shortly.
One polling location in Merrimack had a two-mile-long line of cars waiting to cast their ballots in the crucial, first-in-the-nation primary. Cars are still backed up as far as the eye can see as of 7 p.m. EST.
Merrimack Moderator Lynn Christensen told ABC News the polls are still open for now and she will extend polls as long as necessary.
Officials cannot say yet whether turnout is record-breaking, but New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has been predicting a record overall turnout on Tuesday, fueled mainly by a surge in Republican ballots cast.
He told ABC News that he projected a record-breaking 282,000 voter turnout in the Republican race – and a record-breaking 550,000 voters overall. This evening, the Secretary of State’s office wasn’t ready to say if turnout would meet that projection, but Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlon told ABC News, “we do have a shot” of it being a record breaker.
Officials have not made a decision yet about whether to keep polls open in Merrimack, but they are monitoring the situation and know there are long lines there.
“The Attorney General has a person on site monitoring that,” Scanlon said. “And we’ll be discussing what the options are in terms of the polls closing there.... There’s no decision yet.”
“Turnout has been strong and steady and it seems to have picked up considerably in the dinner hour,” he added.
Interest in the presidential election cycle has peaked this year, in part because of the success of outsider candidates like Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders, who are leading in recent polling in the Granite State.
Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A top-ranking American general said he takes “umbrage with the notion that our military has been gutted,” a claim made by several Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail.
While releasing details Tuesday about the Obama administration’s $582.7 billion defense budget request for 2017, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked about claims.
“I won’t be argumentative but I will take umbrage with the notion that our military has been gutted,” said Selva.
“I stand here today a person that’s worn this uniform for 35 years," he added. “At no time in my career have I been more confident than this instant in saying we have the most powerful military on the face of the planet."
Selva acknowledged that the military has faced challenges for the past 15 years in terms of its ability to perform other missions while countering a “violent extremist terrorist thread of threats."
“That consumes the readiness of our force to do the other tasks that we are given as part of our mission,” said Selva. “Recovering that readiness is a challenge that each of the services will face, but I would say we are far from gutted.”
Selva praised each of the U.S. military services as the best on the planet.
“I don’t engage in politics,” said Selva. "This is the reality of the men and women that serve in our Army, our Navy, our Air Force and our Marine Corps. They’re the best the world has to offer and we’re going to keep them that way.”
Pelham Police(PELHAM, N.H.) -- One New Hampshire voter Tuesday morning wanted to see how the sausage gets made.
A massive pig weighing over 600 pounds was corralled Tuesday from outside a voting station in Pelham, New Hampshire, according to the Pelham Police Department.
The pig lingered among Granite State voters, who were just filing in to their local polling station at a Pelham high school.
Police said the owner was contacted and came to retrieve the pig and return it to a local farm.
This was not the first intersection of the New Hampshire primary and farm animals on Tuesday: A Scottish Highlander, a cattle breed, was spotted "campaigning" for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The head of a key congressional homeland security committee said Tuesday he's worried the Obama administration's system for denying Obamacare tax credits to ineligible applicants is so lax that it could lead to many undocumented immigrants getting coverage.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, released a report expressing concern that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service sometimes distributes health insurance tax credits to applicants who have not yet verified their citizenship or legal status.
He said the flaws in CMS' system, plus President Obama's executive actions on immigration that grant legal status to more young undocumented immigrants and their families, could lead to more ineligible applicants gaining access to health insurance tax credits for low-income individuals.
"Past practices show that the extension of DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and creation of DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents] will likely result in additional illegal immigrants gaining at least provisional coverage and taxpayer-funded cost assistance," Johnson said in his report.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the immigration executive actions -- DAPA and an expanded version of the DACA program -- in June. Until then, the two programs cannot be implemented, although children who had already been granted deferred action under the original DACA are still protected by it.
Johnson cited previously released statistics showing almost 500,000 applicants had to have their tax credits revoked after they didn't provide sufficient documentation, which he said his staff estimates to work out to about $750 million in taxpayer funds in the form of tax credits.
He said in his report that the IRS and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are not doing a good enough job recouping credits and subsidies awarded on behalf of people who fail to verify their legal status in the country.
The system that is in place, according to CMS officials, requires applicants to submit information, such as a Social Security number, that allows the Social Security Administration and/or the Department of Homeland Security to verify their citizenship or immigration status.
If they do not or cannot supply that information when they apply, they can still apply and receive a tax credit but must supply the identification information to the correct agency within a set period of time. It doesn't necessarily mean that all 500,000 of the applicants whose subsidies were revoked had them revoked because they are undocumented.
"Lack of verification does not mean an individual is ineligible for financial assistance, but only that a Marketplace did not receive sufficient information to verify eligibility in the time period outlined in the law," CMS spokesman Benjamin Wakana said.
Indeed, in May 2014, roughly 970,000 people had citizenship or immigration data-matching errors on their applications, a number that by the end of the year had dwindled to 109,000 as applicants who provided documents that were originally not part of their application, meaning only about 11 percent of applicants, had their tax credits terminated, proof of which would have appeared on their annual tax filings.
"We have a robust verification process to make sure that those who are eligible for financial assistance can receive it, while also protecting taxpayer dollars," Wakana added.
Still, Johnson said in his report that more needs to be done to make sure people who are ineligible for health care tax subsidies never get them, even for a short time.
"While CMS and the IRS must improve their coordination to ensure the administration recoups the $750 million improperly awarded,” he said, “they also must work to prevent future improper spending of this type.”
(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- John Kasich’s supporters are working the phones Tuesday, making “persuasion calls” to win over voters who are still undecided. But while the Republican presidential candidate himself has projected an image of optimism and positivity, the supporters’ scripts for phone calls are not as sunny.
At Kasich’s Manchester, New Hampshire headquarters, a script, viewed by ABC News Tuesday, instructed those making calls to tell voters that one of Kasich’s opponents, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, "is trying to keep the family business up and running.” The line comes before the caller is supposed to even pause or ask a question -- and just after they tell New Hampshirites their name and that “John Kasich is running for President to balance the federal budget and restore American strength in the world.”
Kasich, who is seeing a surge of support in New Hampshire just as voting gets underway Tuesday, has taken pains to avoid criticizing other candidates and frequently tells voters and reporters that he is running a positive campaign. Bush’s campaign on Monday released an advertisement attacking Kasich’s record and past statements, after which Kasich said in an interview with Fox News on Monday night that he was “really disappointed in Jeb."
“He’s taking a very low road to the highest office in the land,” Kasich said. "It's been negative all along.”
A super PAC supporting Bush’s candidacy, Right to Rise, has frequently attacked Kasich and other candidates over the course of the campaign.
While Kasich has been largely reluctant to even mention other candidates’ names, Kasich’s call script does not mince words. After asking voters if they plan to vote in Tuesday’s primary in the state and if they will support Kasich, callers are then instructed to tell voters about Kasich’s economic record before blasting Bush again.
"Jeb Bush has used his special interest Super PAC to run a negative campaign and drag this campaign into the mud,” the script reads. "Rather than have a debate about the issues, Jeb Bush wants more political games. We hope you will consider John Kasich on February 9th.”
Asked about the script on Tuesday, Kasich downplayed the criticisms of Bush.
"Come one -- that's like a little pat on the hand compared to the anvils they've been dropping on my head for the past two weeks,” Kasich told ABC News in an interview at his campaign’s office in Nashua, New Hampshire. "And it's a little disappointing, because, you know, you would like to think people could get elected by saying what they're for, rather than trying to trash somebody else. But that's the name of the game today, and we're trying to reverse that.”
On Sunday, Kasich told reporters in Nashua that he would hit back if he were attacked.
"If we come out of here and do well, people are going to say, ‘Wow! I mean, he was positive. He never went after anybody, and he did really well?’” Kasich said. "Well look, if I’m attacked, I’m not going to [sit] there and take a beating. But our campaign has been fundamentally positive, and I think it’s working.”
ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) — Sen. Marco Rubio brushed off recent attacks by his GOP rivals, saying he must be "doing something right," and expressing confidence despite what he called the "unusual set up" in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
"It's great to be targeted because that means you're doing something right," the Florida Republican told ABC’s Good Morning America.
"People don't waste time or money attacking someone who isn't doing something well."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie repeatedly challenged Rubio at Saturday's debate, hosted by ABC News, saying Rubio "memorized 25-second speech."
Despite Christie's attacks, Rubio believes he had "a very strong debate," and doubts it will affect people’s opinion.
Rubio admitted Tuesday morning he is uncertain where he will place in the Granite State, but he believes he will "finish strong."
"I know Trump is a clear front-runner, he's been in first place since June,” he said. "We've got some people that haven't campaigned anywhere else but here, their whole campaign is built here. So it's a pretty unusual set up."
The GOP hopeful went on to say he gives the Republican Party the best chance to do three things: "To unify, to grow and to win.”
ABC News(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Regardless of who wins, there’s a reason for Granite Staters to celebrate: Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire primary. Here’s your primer on the details.
Who can vote? Any registered voter can cast a ballot, and yes, voters may register on the day of the primary. “Undeclared” voters may temporarily register with either party, vote, and drop their party affiliation before leaving. They’re a valuable block: of registered New Hampshire voters, 44 percent are independent.
Record turnout? Secretary of State William Gardner is predicting a record surge in Republican ballots cast. Democrats are not expected to show up to the polls in the record numbers they did eight years ago. Even so, overall turnout is expected to shatter the mark set in 2008.
When do polls open? Three precincts will open their polls as early as midnight. Hart’s Location, Millsfield, and the famous Dixville Notch (pop. 9) are small enough to open and close their polls, with 100 percent turnout, in a matter of minutes.
Across the rest of the state, polls in larger cities like Manchester and Nashua open at 6 a.m., though most precincts don’t open until 7 or 8 a.m.
Poll closures Besides the quirky midnight votes, polls begin closing at 7 p.m., though in some areas voting will continue until 8 p.m.
Weather report New Hampshire received a few inches of snow Monday, but a mostly dry day is expected as voters head to the polls. Secretary of State Gardner says he does not expect the weather to have an impact on the primary.
How predictive is this primary, anyway? New Hampshire’s record at picking nominees is…spotty. On the Republican side, it’s a better indicator than Iowa: in the last seven nominating contests dating back to 1976, the New Hampshire winner has gone on to win the nomination five times. On the Democratic side, Iowa has the edge: over the last eight competitive contests, Iowa voters have chosen six eventual nominees; New Hampshirites have chosen five.
Many would argue that the states’ most valuable role is paring down the choices, not picking a winner. But in 40 years, no Republican has secured the nomination without winning one of those two early states.
Polling places to watch: Not all wards are created equal -- some polling places are especially telling. University of New Hampshire polling director Andy Smith tells ABC News “for the GOP, I like to look at Derry as it has both a blue collar core and suburban parts.” On the Democratic side, Smith says, “Keene is key." He predicts a 60 percent finish for Bernie Sanders might spell statewide disaster for Hillary Clinton -- not a far-fetched scenario, as the heavily Democratic town is less than 20 miles from the Vermont border.
Frontrunner Donald Trump might have his eye on working class towns like Rochester, Somersworth or perhaps nearby Farmington, which his state staff calls “Trump country.”
What about fraud? The state’s famously inclusive rules allow college students from other states to vote, as long as they don’t vote anywhere else. And every four years, voter fraud watchdogs are on the lookout for votes from New Hampshire’s many vacation property owners, and the political volunteers who spend long stretches in the state.
Who’s running? This isn’t a dumb question. All it takes is $1,000 and a signature to participate in the first-in-the-nation primary. Twenty-eight Democrats and 30 Republicans have taken the plunge. Names like O’Malley and Paul are still on the ballots, and could garner votes from staunch supporters. Lesser-known candidates like Vermin Supreme, a Democrat who campaigns wearing a boot on his head, are there as well. While some may be more optimistic than others, they’ll all learn their fates Tuesday night.
Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose campaign has maintained a laser-like focus on performing well in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, declined to predict exactly how he would place once all the votes are counted here, but sounded a note of confidence in an interview today on Good Morning America.
"We’re going to finish very strong," he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. "I’m not like Muhammad Ali; I can’t predict, you know, exactly what round or whatever."
Kasich noted that he has already dispatched his campaign bus to South Carolina and on Monday his campaign released a schedule of events the Republican Ohio governor is expected to attend in that state. Tuesday morning, he also dismissed the notion that his campaign lacks the financial or organizational heft to plow ahead to the next round of primaries.
"People have counted me out all of my career," he said. "I hope they keep underestimating me because there was another guy they underestimated all the time. His name was Reagan."
Kasich was also relishing his performance in the tiny town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, which traditionally votes at midnight on Primary Day. Kasich received three votes compared to two for rival Donald Trump. (Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders received four votes out of the total nine cast).
Kasich said he called every voter in the northern New Hampshire enclave.
The latest polls have showed him on the rise. A University of Massachusetts-Lowell New Hampshire tracking poll released Monday had Kasich at 10 percent, tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and behind rivals Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Kasich, who said he has held more than 100 town hall meetings in the state, said he is seeing enthusiasm.
"Last night, we were out there in a driving snowstorm, probably three, four hundred people standing out there cheering,” he said. “It was like a movie set.”