Immediately following last night's Senate Debate between U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and Republican challenger Kevin O’Connor, the GBH News political team joined host Joe Mathieu to analyze the candidates' performances and discuss the contours of the Senate race. None of the team saw a dramatic shift that would suggest O'Connor is likely to knock off the Democratic incumbent.

"I didn't see a moment this evening where I felt like O'Connor was really making Markey sweat," said GBH News political reporter Adam Reilly, adding that could be a function of Markey's decades of experience in politics and dozens of political debates, as well as O'Connor's own failure to build a campaign message that resonates with voters and "throws Ed Markey off his game."

"Mr. O'Connor trying to paint himself as a common sense middle-of-the-road guy missed some opportunities in this formal setting," said reporter Saraya Wintersmith. "I think that he is still trying to define himself on the campaign trail. He's frequently asked, 'What kind of Republican are you? Are you aligning yourself with Trump, or [Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie] Baker?' I think him trying to forge his own path probably would've been better started before the September primary. Because now there's a 600,000 vote gulf between him and Markey, when you look at who voted during the primary."

"It's a real mismatch. You've got Ed Markey on stage after besting a Kennedy in Massachusetts. It's like if Ted Williams played another season after hitting over .400," said Senior Editor Peter Kadzis. Markey prevailed by a suprisingly large margin in a hotly contested primary against Rep. Joseph Kennedy III in September. "O'Connor's got a thankless job. Markey merely had to continue being Markey, which he did very well." Kadzis pointed out that Markey is, indeed, farther to the left politically than many Massachusetts voters, but this is also a state that has historically expressed large support for progressive icons Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "I have no problem saying that Markey won," said Kadzis.

Watch the full analysis with Reilly, Wintersmith, and Kadzis below:

Greater Boston Area Analysis

Radio host and producer Mindy Todd from GBH partner station CAI joined the conversation, noting that the political landscape of Cape Cod and the surrounding islands is more diverse than people think. "I think a lot of people don't realize, when you look at our delegates to the legislature, they're mixed, and they have been for a long time. We're sort of 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans." She said environmental issues resonate powerfully on the Cape, and O'Connor failed to answer a question on environmental policy, instead criticizing Markey. "I feel like [O'Connor] did miss an opportunity in letting us know who he is and what he stands for," Todd said.

Worcester bureau reporter Carrie Saldo noted that in the 2016 presidential race, many communities in Central Massachusetts supported Donald Trump. "So tonight, when we heard Markey jabbing Kevin O'Connor on 'he's a Trump Republican, he's a Trump Republican' — that could play well for O'Connor in some of those communities." She went on to say that, despite some Democratic support throughout Worcester County, "For all the discussion that we had between Saraya and Adam and Peter about the failure for O'Connor to choose a lane and how that might make it hard for him on the GOP highway between Trump and Baker, I think it could be helpful in Worcester communities."

Watch the full analysis with Todd and Saldo below:

Worcester/WCAI Analysis

Debate moderators Jim Braude and Margery Eagan said the last-minute decision to move the candidates to separate studios for their safety instead of having them in the same room as the hosts significantly altered the dynamics of the debate.

Eagan pointed out that, in previous debates, where the moderators sat at the same table as the candidates, "It was much more intimate, and it was easier to communicate with the candidates." In the current pandemic environment, "You're looking up at a little screen, and they're in a different room from you, and I think it's harder."

Braude added that, over the pairs' decades of moderating debates, they've developed a trademark format: no podiums, no formalities, no time limits. "Having somebody physically with you is a totally different interview or debate than if they're long-distance, even in normal times. Having said that, I think it worked out, to be candid, far better than I thought."

Braude and Eagan agreed that, despite the socially-distanced debate format, both candidates seemed at ease and adaptable. "Kevin O'Connor is a skilled attorney, he's been a lawyer for a long time. Ed Markey's been in Congress for ages. He's probably done dozens of debates over the years. So they both seemed relaxed and ready to go," said Eagan.

Watch the full analysis with Braude and Eagan below:

Moderators' Analysis

Watch the Senate debate in its entirety here.