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Historian: We've Seen Worse Races

Presidential historian Larry Sabato says that as deeply divided as the country has been in this election, it's survived much more bitter contests.

"Just in recent times, I would say the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater race was one of the most negative presidential battles in all of American history," says Sabato, who heads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "We've had a lot of negative races. We're able to recover and go along a lot better and faster than we think."

Close elections aren't that uncommon. In 1960, 1968 and 1976, the results weren't known until midday Wednesday.

In some ways, Sabato says, history worked against a Bush victory. "For one thing, every president in American history who had lost the popular vote had not been elected to a second term." Bush was the fourth president to lose the popular vote.

"The only other presidential father-son ticket, the Adams, both had one term," he adds.

On the other hand, Sabato says that Bush, unlike his father, campaigned very hard for reelection.

Sabato thinks the country can get over this election if Kerry graciously accepts defeat and Bush is a gracious winner. The election has not been decided yet.

Sabato notes that Bush's father believed the predictions were wrong and that he would pull an upset and defeat Clinton. It fell to his son to give him the bad news.

When Jimmy and Roslyn Carter learned that he would be defeated, both of them cried. Carter's aide, Pat Gaddell, told them aboard a plane.

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