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Historian: Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton one of most divisive elections in US history

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — The election of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will go down as one of the most divisive races in American history, a historian said.

“We’ve had divisive elections before — one ended up in a civil war — that’s been truly divisive, in a different way, but we’ve never had such a level of nastiness between two major-party candidates,” Brooks Simpson, a presidential historian with Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College, said.

Simpson was referring to the election of 1860 that saw Republican Abraham Lincoln defeat several other nominees and is widely regarded as a primary trigger of the secession of the southern states, which eventually led to the Civil War.

While this election is occurring in a far different America than one that took up arms against itself, headlines over the past two years have focused on accusations of mishandling emails on one side and aggressive sexual comments about women on the other.

Simpson said the constant negative stories — and fights among the nominees’ supporters — are beginning to wear on voters.

“I think voters are tired of this and they can’t wait for Election Day to come,” he said.

Simpson said that, no matter which nominee walks away with a victory come Tuesday, there’s going to be a lot of questions surrounding the presidency.

“Hillary Clinton, she’ll come into the White House as a damaged commodity by all the charges made about her,” he said. “If Donald Trump were to win, people wouldn’t know what to expect next.”

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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