As Democrats and Republicans blame each other for the first federal government shutdown in 17 years, they're also asking themselves a big question: Who will voters blame in next year's Congressional elections?
A good place to gauge voter sentiment might be Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, where voters narrowly selected President Barack Obama over Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
For more than a decade, U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican, has represented the district. Like almost every other House Republican Kline supports legislation to continue funding the federal government, but only in return for changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Kline said he's not playing games and insists Democrats are to blame for the shutdown for refusing to negotiate with Republicans.
"We need to have some negotiations get underway here," Kline said. "There are all kinds of possibilities that could be agreed upon."
But that's not a universally held sentiment in the 2nd District, which covers the southern part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
George Williamson, a "political independent" from Eagan, Minn., who has voted for Kline in the past, said he's very unhappy with the government shutdown.
"I think it's the worst thing they ever could have done," said Williamson, 73.
Williamson said he plans to vote for former state Rep. Mike Obermueller, a Democrat from Eagan next year. Obermueller lost by a wide margin to Kline in the 2012 election, but Williamson thinks the shutdown issue might give the Democrat the boost he needs to win.
"I think it will be his best chance now," Obermueller said.
When Kline first won election to Congress, the 2nd District had a solid majority of Republican voters. But the last round of redistricting changed that. The district lost some areas that typically vote Republican and gained some that have historically supported Democrats.
Obermueller, the Democratic favorite to take on Kline again next year, finds the Republican effort to bring government to a halt distasteful.
"Look, I don't want to talk about the fact that we're shutting down government," he said. "I'd rather have those workers back in their jobs."
But Obermueller said he will be talking about the shutdown between now and next November, highlighting Kline's role in the shutdown.
"It is absolutely irresponsible to be playing games with 800,000 people's lives and their livelihoods right now," he said. "These guys want to make political points. That's not a way to govern. That is not governing."
“These guys want to make political points. That's not a way to govern. That is not governing.”Former state Rep. Mike Obermueller
Marianne Johnson of Mendota Heights isn't happy about the shutdown either. But she supports Kline.
"I think he has a great track record," she said.
Johnson, 69, thinks "Obamacare" is misguided and that Republicans are justified in asking fort okay to demand changes to the Affordable Care Act in exchange for passing a bill to continue funding the government.
"I definitely think we need to stop in our tracks," she said.
But according to polls, Johnson is in the minority.
A Quinnipiac University survey released this week found only 22 percent of American voters support shutting down the government to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Seventy-two percent oppose it. As for the health care law itself, the same poll found a much closer split with 45 percent of voters supporting it and 47 percent opposing it.
If the shutdown makes a deep enough impression on voters that they remember it a year from now, they are likely to hold all incumbents accountable, Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier said.
But Schier said Republicans who opposed a so-called "clean" continuing resolution without any policy changes likely will take the brunt of the blame.
"I think the Republican argument is a tougher sell because there are disruptions occurring and the Republicans will, in the short term, be held responsible for those disruptions," he said.
Schier said Democratic challengers can leverage the opposition to the shutdown by emphasizing local shutdown-related disruptions, "how people are inconvenienced [and] how government isn't working for constituents in a particular district."
If Democrats "tie that to the intransigence of the incumbent," he said, "there are, I think, a lot of marketing opportunities for challengers in all of this."
But whether there is lingering anger over the shutdown could depend on how long it lasts and how it eventually is resolved.
If Congress fails to raise the nation's borrowing limit by the middle of the month, the United States could for the first time default on debt payments. Economists warn that would bring much more severe consequences than the shutdown.