Sabato's Crystal Ball

Illinois (11) House 2010

 

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Debbie Halvorson, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Adam Kinzinger, former Mclean County Commissioner

Recent Updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 7, 2010

Rep. Debbie Halvorson’s 2008 victory went from nail-biter to blowout, as she ended up with a 58%-34% margin of victory despite running in an open seat race in Republican territory. With a stronger Republican nominee on the ballot, no hometown Obama coattails to ride, and the Democratic brand now severely tarnished, this election never seemed as easy. Her GOP opponent is 32 year-old veteran Adam Kinzinger who had already raised over $1 million by the end of June. With the national Republican cavalry charging in to provide assistance, his message is already being heard on the district’s very pricey airwaves. The recent polling here shows his message is resonating. By early August Kinzinger’s campaign had a poll showing them over the crucial 50% threshold and leading Halvorson by double-digits. A nonpartisan poll from The Hill newspaper this week showed similar numbers, but painted an even bleaker picture for Democrats’ chances of holding the seat, with Halvorson trailing 49%-31%. It is against this background that the Crystal Ball rating changes from Toss-Up to Leans Republican.

Background:

Democrat Debbie Halvorson soundly defeated her Republican opponent in November of 2008 to win her first term in Congress. The 11th district of Illinois had been represented by Republican Jerry Weller since 1995, but Weller left an open seat when he decided against running in 2008. Halvorson’s 2008 opponent Tim Baldermann helped Halvorson’s campaign by dropping out of the race just weeks after winning the primary. Halvorson soundly defeated Baldermann’s replacement Marty Olzinga with 59% of the vote to Ozinga’s 34.5% in the November election. The 11th district had been represented by a Democrat since 1959 prior to Weller’s seven terms between 1995 and 2009. Bush carried the district in both the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections, but Obama won in 2008 by a margin of 53-45%.

Halvorson served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 until 2009, ascending to the position of Senate Majority leader prior to her Congressional campaign. Halverson came under fire for receiving money from disgraced New York Congressional Representative Charlie Rangel. Halvorson initially indicated that she would donate the $60,000 she had received to a charity, but later decided to donate only $16,000. Halvorson’s Republican opponent has taken advantage of the situation to question Halverson’s ethics.

Although he has been criticized for his youth and lack of experience, Adam Kinzinger easily defeated his four Republican opponents in the 11th district’s February 2nd primary. Kinzinger received 63% of the vote; his nearest opponent had only 11% of the vote. Although Kinzinger is only 31, he ran for his first elected position at the age of 20, winning a seat on the Board of McLean County while he was studying at Illinois State University. Kinzinger attained the rank of Captain in the US Air Force and remains a member of the Air National Guard.

As of January 13, Halvorson had taken in more than twice as much in campaign contribution than her opponent, with $1.2 million in receipts compared to Kinzinger’s $522,000. Halvorson’s advantage as an incumbent, her margin of victory in 2008, and her sizable lead in fundraising make Illinois 11th district Likely Democratic.