The one drawback for Republicans - as it has played out among voters - in gaining control of the Minnesota Legislature is the GOP taking the brunt of the blame for a session that went into overtime and resulted in a nearly three-week government shutdown that left more than 20,000 state employees jobless, halted public services and closed state parks.
Republicans indeed won big in 2010 but might have fallen out of favor with Minnesota voters this summer. What kind of effect that will have in the next election remains to be seen, but for now it seems a dark cloud is hanging over the Republican party in Minnesota - at least in the eyes of the people who put them in office.
A MinnPost survey taken recently shows that Minnesotans blame Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin for the shutdown. Forty-two percent of those polled blame Republicans in the Legislature, while 22 percent blamed both parties and 21 percent said it was mainly Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's fault.
The survey of 598 Minnesota adults was taken July 24-26 by Daves & Associates Research. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
Having the majority in the Legislature - there are 72 Republicans in the House compared to 62 Democrats and 37 GOP senators compared to 30 DFLers - Republican policymakers are being held accountable more than their Democratic counterparts.
While the survey showed that 42 percent of respondents said the budget situation and shutdown won't affect how they vote in 2012, 30 percent said they were more likely to vote DFL.
District 21A Republican Rep. Chris Swedzinski of Ghent said it's too early to project how this year's session will affect next year's election. He acknowledged, however, that people have plenty of concerns when it comes to state government.
"Everyone's lives were affected by the shutdown," he said. "As far as what their thoughts are going to be in how many months, who knows? The ultimate goal is not to have a shutdown or at least to have a lights-on bill. Every part of the state is a little different as far as people's thought processes."
Among Independents who are considered swing voters, 46 percent lay the burden of responsibility on Republicans' shoulders, while 18 percent blamed Dayton and 25 percent blamed both. To Swedzinski, everyone who played a part in this year's shutdown should take some responsibility.
"I think everybody is responsible to a large extent," he said. "There are going to be some tough decisions that are going to have to be made to able to grow this economy. Look at the federal level, they did nothing. They talk about not going into default, but last time I checked when you have bills to pay you don't grab another credit card to make a minimum payment."
The survey also showed that 66 percent of those questioned would've preferred to see the budget balanced with a combination of cuts and tax increases. Dayton pushed hard for a tax increase on the rich but eventually gave up that fight in order to end the shutdown.
Swedzinski, one of 33 Republican freshmen in the House this year, hasn't decided if he'll run again in 2012. For now, he's taking a wait-and-see approach.
"I got involved in government because I want to have long-term change in government," he said. "I still feel there's work to be done. Can it be done? Everyone has families, so it will be a family decision, too; it will all play a role. I haven't ruled it out by any means."