By Larry Kane

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This election in New Jersey provides drama over election margins for incumbent Governor Chris Christie and a historical note for his challenger and underdog State Senator Barbara Buono.

Behind the election today is, of course, Governor Christie’s presidential hopes. The margin of victory is the name of the game, but in the last 48 hours, the candidate and his surrogates have carefully lowered the expectation of higher numbers, some stressing that the low 50’s would be outstanding. The lower the expectations, the better it looks if they are exceeded.

Christie has said it would be tough to get to the 71 percent of the vote that Republican Governor Tom Kean got in his re-election win in 1985. That’s the highest ever. If Christie gets near that, it would be a monumental victory.

READ: NJ Votes Today For Governor, Legislature And More

The forgotten person in this race is Senator Barbara Buono, who has not been deeply supported by her own party and was abandoned by local Democratic leaders. Despite that, Chris Christie ran like she was a real threat. Christie spent a small fortune to try and show the country that a Republican could expect to win in a Democratic state.

An interesting note, former Governors Tom Kean, Christie Whitman, and Jim Florio all lost statewide elections before they were elected Governor.

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