The Holyrood election shows the continuation of the sharp divide on the constitution that has defined Scottish politics in recent years.
The SNP and Tories did not need to do much to retain support in such circumstances. But equally these parties could not expect to make big gains. This is electoral trench warfare.
But small movements of the vote and a few seats changing hands can have big political consequences. Any shift to the SNP and Greens will strengthen demands for an independence referendum.
If the Tories hold their own overall they will insist that a referendum should not happen.
The evidence suggests that the constitutional stalemate will not be broken.
The emphasis on the List vote by the SNP, Tories and Labour was no surprise in this election. Much will depend on the list vote especially in terms of Green party representation.
The Greens have been quietly advancing and look set for their best result. With the SNP gaining in constituencies and Greens gaining on the Lists, the momentum is with supporters of a referendum.
Labour has struggled to get into the battle. The consensus that Anas Sarwar fought a good campaign combined with Labour’s vote generally holding up in many seats will be offset by loss of seats and worries about the results in England.
Labour’s poor results there will have an impact on Scottish politics, highlighting the divergence in voting behaviour north and south of the border.
A large part of the case for independence is that Scotland continues to be governed by a government in London it did not support.
That divergence has continued and looks set to have increased when all the results are declared.
The Liberal Democrats are showing that they are good at digging when they win a seat but are unlikely to advance on the lists.
We can be sure that an independence referendum will remain high on the political agenda. This suggests more of the same.
Neither Labour nor the Tories are likely to back down. The next year or two will see the Scottish and UK Governments in a phoney war, each claiming a mandate for its position.
Neither the Tories nor SNP will really be keen on a referendum any time soon. The pandemic will need to take priority.
There is also the stalemate evident in polling on independence. Neither the SNP nor the Tories can be confident of victory in a referendum.
While Labour has been marginalised in these debates, it might be the key to breaking the deadlock.
There is no doubt that Labour voters are divided on independence and a simple binary referendum would create an enormous headache for Labour.
It cannot afford to be seen to be on the same side as the Tories. But if Labour was to support a referendum after we get through the pandemic then that would be significant.
Labour might be tempted to do so on condition that a third option was on the ballot paper. A third option on the ballot paper would be a bold move and would be difficult for the SNP and Tories.
It would also be a major challenge to define such an option. As remote as this might seem, this seems the most likely way to break the deadlock that this election seems unlikely to achieve.