"There was no hope of doing away with Obamacare, which I would love to do, but it was never going to succeed," she said. "This isn't about being conservative or not conservative. This is about whether people are willing to deal in the real world."
Mickelsen said her heart goes out to Utahns impacted by the shutdown.
"They're pretty disgusted by it, and they deserve to be. Those people are being held hostage right now," she said. "Here's one Republican who would say to them, 'I'm sorry.'"
Quin Monson, head of BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, said the political effect of the government shutdown on Lee will depend on whether he can claim he won the fight.
"It comes down to how he defines a victory," Monson said. "If the only way he can define a victory is to completely stop Obamacare, then that's going to be difficult. That ship has sailed in some ways."
Monson said it's too soon to assume Republicans will get all the blame for the shutdown, but the longer the federal government remains unfunded, the more difficult it will be to overlook the impacts.
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said unlike most policy debates in Washington, D.C., the reality of a government shutdown hits home with voters.
Lee, "because he's been so outspoken in this, in some ways, he owns this," Burbank said of the effects of the shutdown. "I don't see how you turn it into a positive for yourself and your party."
Still, at least for now, many Utahns will side with Lee, Burbank said.
"I suspect people in Utah will probably be more sympathetic to the Republican position than the nation as a whole," he said. For them, Burbank said, the shutdown "needed to happen. It's unpleasant, yes, but we're going to get something important done."
Utah advertising executive Tom Love, a self-described moderate Democrat, said now that the state's residents are experiencing a government shutdown, Lee will have a tougher time if he seeks reelection in 2016.
His battles, Love said, "will happen with the Republican Party, with the moderates and the independents who are either embarrassed or ashamed or recognize the actual harm his performance in the Senate is causing."
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