This time, history didn't repeat itself.
Democratic Rep. Ed Markey Tuesday won a special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, topping Republican businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez in an election marked by low voter turnout.
The contest was the second time in three years that Massachusetts voters headed to the polls in a special U.S. Senate election with national implications.
In January 2010, little-known Republican state Sen. Scott Brown upset Martha Coakley, the Commonwealth's Democratic attorney general, in a contest to fill the remainder of the term of longtime Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died the previous summer. Brown's victory set the stage for the GOP wave in the November 2010 midterm elections.
Fast forward three years, and this time there was no upset.
With 100% of precincts reporting, Markey led Gomez 55%-45%, according to local media reports.
Markey, who had led in all the pre-election public opinion polls, will serve the remaining year and a half of the term of longtime Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who stepped down earlier this year after being confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.
In his victory speech, the 20-term congressman talked about his humble beginnings.
"I was the first in my family to go to college. I drove an ice cream truck to work my way through Boston College as a commuter. But thanks to the opportunities this country gave me, this son of a milkman is going to serve the state of Massachusetts in the United States Senate," said Markey.
Markey, 66, held his election night victory party in Boston's Park Plaza Hotel, the same hotel where Brown celebrated his upset victory in 2010.
Brown, who lost his Senate seat last November when he was defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, passed on running in this special election, setting the stage for Gomez, who had never held public office.
"We can be proud of what we accomplished, literally starting from scratch five months ago. Nobody knew who I was outside of Cohasset, a couple of little league baseball teams and the amazing people I worked with. But look at us now," said Gomez in his concession speech about 90 minutes after the polls closed in the Bay State.
National Democrats, taking no chances this time around, greatly outspent national Republicans in the contest, which Gomez acknowledged in his remarks.
"We were massively overspent. We went up against literally the whole national Democratic party and all its allies and the machine. But in face of all this diversity, we could not have fought a better fight," added Gomez, 47.
No Republican upset
While the GOP looked to comparisons to the 2010 special election and Gomez aides predicted a shocker, much has changed since Brown's upset victory.
President Barack Obama's health care measure was facing key votes in Congress at the time, and Brown's victory gave Republicans a key 41st seat in the Senate, allowing them to filibuster Democratic initiatives such as Obamacare.
The tea party movement, formed less than a year earlier, was on the rise, and played an important role in support of Brown, a charismatic candidate. And many national and state Democrats took the seat for granted as it had been in the party's hands for decades.
While there was still a lot at stake in this election (a GOP upset in Tuesday's contest would take a bite out of the Democrats current slim 54-46 majority in the Senate), and while partisanship is still just as bitter in the nation's capital, the climate has changed a bit, the seat was not considered a crucial vote in any upcoming legislation and the face received much less national media attention than the 2010 campaign.
Special elections often draw low turnout, and this race was no an exception. With many of the high profile names deciding against running, the contest was generating little interest with the public even before it was overshadowed by April's Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured nearly 300.
Combine that with possible voter fatigue (this was the third Senate election in the state in the past three and a half years) and a heatwave on Election Day, and it all added up to an apparently record low voter turnout for the contest, far below the 52% turnout in the 2010 special contest.
Concerned about low turnout, the biggest names in the Democratic Party all traveled to Massachusetts to lend Markey a helping hand. In the past three weeks, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama all campaigned with Markey.
In an e-mail following Markey's victory, the Democratic National Committee said that they "built two predictive voter models to gauge support for Markey and turnout, applying the lessons learned from the Obama Campaign's 2012 innovative modeling efforts."