Early election results show that Joe Biden received more than double the votes of President Donald Trump in Massachusetts, but the huge Democratic win did little to penetrate the halls of the State House, where Democrats will likely command only one additional seat in the Legislature next year.
"What we're seeing nationwide is what we saw in Massachusetts: this is a status quo election," said Peter Ubertaccio, a political scientist at Stonehill College. "The country is as divided today as it was last week as it was two years ago. Nothing much has changed."
In the 160-member House of Representatives, it was close to a wash. Democrats defeated one incumbent Republican and filled one open seat now held by a retiring Republican. Across the aisle, Republicans filled one seat now held by a departing Democrat in an open race.
Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg) lost to challenger John Cronin (D-Lunenburg) by just over half a percentage point, giving Senate Democrats a 37-to-3 advantage in the 40-member chamber. Tran's campaign was bogged down by an ethics investigation into his use of state staff to work for his reelection, which resulted in him being barred from his own State House office and direct contact with his staff.
Democrat Kip Diggs, a former boxer, defeated Rep. William Crocker of Barnstable to reclaim the seat Crocker turned red in 2016.
In North Attleboro, 24-year-old Democrat Adam Scanlon beat fellow Town Councilor John Simmons to capture a seat long-held by Republicans. Retiring Assistant House Minority Leader Elizabeth Porier has held the seat since 1999 and succeeded her husband who occupied it for decades before that.
Ubertaccio said the successful Republican candidates kept their distance from Trump and relied on local connections to win.
"When you're losing a state as Trump did by between 20 and 30 points, it makes it very difficult for down-ballot partisans to win," Ubertaccio told GBH News. "But the further down you go, the more likely voters are to think differently about the candidates. So they're simply less likely to view their hometown candidate as a smaller version of the national parties and they're more willing to differentiate."
The GOP's single gain came in Western Mass. Republican Kelly Pease recaptured the Westfield-based House seat vacated by John Velis when Velis joined the Senate earlier this year.
Republicans had thought they had scored another win in the western part of the state, but new vote tallies suggest the seat will remain in the Democratic column. In Ludlow, Republican James "Chip" Harrington had a slim lead over Democrat Jacob Oliveira to replace retiring Democrat Thomas Petrolati when the Associated Press first reported vote totals for the race. Both candidates said on social media Wednesday that local clerks were still counting ballots. According to newer totals, Democrat Oliveira holds a lead as the candidates consider legal action or a recount.