The last time a Massachusetts Republican was elected to Congress, it was January 2010, and the win was national news. Scott Brown, a formerly obscure state senator, topped then-Attorney General Martha Coakley in a race for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy.

Brown’s pitch wasn’t nonpartisan, exactly: Among other things, he vowed to oppose President Obama’s push for health care reform. But he also pitched himself as a sensible everyman who would think independently, focusing on the needs of Massachusetts rather than ideology.

“I go to Washington as the representative of no faction or no special interest, answering only to my conscience and to you, the people,” Brown said on election night.

You can hear echoes of that pitch today from Kevin O’Connor, who’s running for Senate against Democratic incumbent Ed Markey. In a recent interview with the Scrum, GBH News’ politics podcast, O’Connor had kind words for Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who ousted Brown in 2012, and doesn’t usually elicit praise from Republicans.

“Sen. Warren is a really substantial, impressive person,” O’Connor said. “We disagree on a lot of policies, and sometimes we’re stylistically different, but she would be my partner, and there’s a lot of common ground.”

It's the sort of measured language voters have come to expect from Gov. Charlie Baker, who endorsed O'Connor this week. At other times, though, O’Connor strikes a harsher note. In campaign emails, he’s called Markey a “total fraud,” and warned that that the “radical left” wants to fundamentally change America.

Among the current crop of Republican candidates, that harsher tone is the norm.

In the Fourth Congressional District, Julie Hall says her opponent, Jake Auchincloss — a former Republican — is an “angry” “radical” “socialist.” In the Fifth District, Republican challenger Caroline Colarusso calls Congresswoman Katherine Clark a “do-nothing” “virtue signal[er]” who’s ignoring “rising evil” in the nation. And in the Second District, Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern’s challenger, Tracy Lovvorn, has posted favorably about the conservative vigilante group the Proud Boys — and praised the QAnon movement, which believes President Trump is fighting a vast network of pedophile Satanists.

In part, this stridency reflects what Shannon Jenkins, a political scientist at UMass Dartmouth, calls “negative partisanship.”

“It used to be that you were a Republican or a Democratic because you were for the Republicans or the Democrats,” Jenkins said. “Increasingly, people are Republicans because they hate the Democrats, or Democrats because they hate the Republicans."

But the shift in Republican tone also reflects the Massachusetts Republican Party's decision to fully embrace President Donald Trump's worldview. Look through the party’s press releases, and certain phrases jump out: “ballot fraud,” “infanticide,” “leftist mobs,” “under siege.” The picture that emerges is in keeping with Trump’s reelection campaign — but that doesn’t mean it’s smart politics.

“Sticking close to Donald Trump is probably not a winning electoral strategy in Massachusetts right now,” said Steve Koczela, the president of the MassINC Polling Group.

For one thing, Koczela notes, Trump’s approval in Massachusetts is low — about 30 percent. In addition, Massachusetts voters aren’t widely outraged about the issues the president and the state GOP are focused on.

“Very large majorities [are] supportive of the goals of Black Lives Matter,” Koczela said, adding that support for Roe v. Wade is also “very high.”

There’s another approach the Mass GOP could have embraced. It’s the one taken by Baker, who’s eschewed extreme partisanship and distanced himself from the president — and is currently as popular statewide as Trump is unpopular.

Jim Lyons, the Mass GOP chair, declined to comment for this story. In the past, Lyons has publicly clashed with Baker over COVID restrictions and the integrity of mail-in voting.

Jennifer Nassour, who chaired the party from 2009 to 2011, says the party’s hard-right stance under Lyons puts candidates in an awkward spot.

“It leaves a lot of candidates who are somewhere between the governor and Chairman Lyons out to dry,” Nassour said. “You feel — and this is from conversations I’ve had with the candidates — you feel you’re either in the Baker camp or the Lyons camp.”

Jenkins, the political scientist, notes the state party has been a haven for conservatives for years, despite attempts by Baker and former Gov. Mitt Romney to pull it toward the center.

But in this particular election cycle, she adds, going all in on the Republican id seems like a dubious move.

“I’m hesitant to make predictions after 2016,” Jenkins said. “But doubling down on this [approach], from what I can tell, is not a winning strategy.”

Clearly, the Mass GOP disagrees. In just under two weeks, we’ll have a much better sense of who’s right.