This district's boundaries span exurban Chicago counties such as DeKalb, Grundy and Iroquois, and border Wisconsin to the north and Indiana to the east.
The 16th formerly encompassed the northwestern part of the state, as well as the mid-sized city of Rockford, but was virtually gutted in 2012 redistricting. A historically Republican voting bloc—electing just two Democrats since 1903—the district has retained its GOP-heavy base of supporters. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a rising star within the party, defeated Democratic incumbent Debbie Halvorson in 2010 to win the 11th district House seat; two years later, the redistrict compelled Kinzinger to run in the 16th, ousting Democrat Wanda Rohl in a landslide victory.
Like fellow GOP Illinois congressman Aaron Schock, the 36-year-old Kinzinger is young, telegenic and highly ambitious. The Kankakee-born politician served in the U.S. Air Force and did two stints in Iraq; further adding to his narrative of bravery and fearlessness, Kinzinger once saved the life of a woman who was stabbed on a street in Milwaukee. Rather than idly stand by, he went after her attacker and wrestled him to the ground. In DC, he's been an active supporter of veterans causes and sits on the House foreign affairs and energy committees.
Randall Olsen is a retired nuclear cardiology technologist with a blue-collar background, Masters degree in divinity and a 20-year stint in the Air Force as an X-Ray tech and nuclear medicine tech. According to Olsen's campaign site, he's "running for Congress because we need to change the House of Representatives to a Democratic majority. The Republican majority has succeeded in disrupting, obstructing, and, generally stopping the democratic process within Congress."
Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg joins fellow pollsters in projecting an easy Kinzinger victory over the relatively unknown and less qualified Olsen.
What Could Change: Kinzinger would have to do something incredibly stupid to lose this election—for now, he's got it in the bag.