They've also never elected a challenger viewed so negatively. Unless things change dramatically, this Election Day will mark a first, no matter who wins.
The victor will be a sitting president with a slow economy, 8 percent-plus unemployment and an average Gallup job-approval rating below 50 percent.
Or he'll be a challenger who isn't liked personally by a majority of the public and faces notable discord within his own party.
Some Republicans point with hope to 1980 and challenger Ronald Reagan's victory over President Jimmy Carter. Democrats point out that this isn't 1980, and a lot has changed.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)