Facts and Figures About Biden’s and Harris’ Historic Victory
It’s official: President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have claimed a historic victory. They won 306 electoral votes and at least 81 million popular votes, a record number of popular votes by more than 11 million votes. On November 7, swing-state Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, put him over the top, causing news outlets to call the 2020 presidential election for him. When the Electoral College voted on December 14, California, where Harris was born, put Biden over the top. Both Biden and Harris and their spouses make history in multiple ways.
While Biden was Vice President, he swore new and returning Senators into office. After the official oath occurs in the Senate Chamber, the swearing-in ceremony reenactment occurs in the Old Senate Chamber.
Biden will become just the second President and the first Democratic President to serve with a Vice President he had sworn into the Senate, as shown in the below table. The first one was George H.W. Bush, who had sworn in his future Vice President, Dan Quayle, in 1987. Biden will be the first President to serve with a Vice President he swore into the Senate during the last month of his Vice Presidency, and he will be the first President to serve with a Vice President who was sworn into the Senate only by that Vice President. On January 3, 2017, just less than three weeks before his Vice President tenure ended, Biden swore in brand new Senator Harris, who had been friends with Biden’s son Beau Biden when they were both state Attorneys General. After being sworn into office and taking photos, Harris suggested a “standing coffee get-together” with Biden. Biden reportedly wants to replicate the close relationship he had with Obama in the White House. As President, Biden might want to continue his Obama-Biden White House weekly lunch tradition, “a highlight of every week at the White House,” with Harris, granting her the standing get-together she mentioned.
Presidents Who Were Vice Presidents
Notes: On January 20, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President who became President in January. The Constitution designated Inauguration Day was March 4th. The Twentieth Amendment in 1933 moved Inauguration Day to January 20. The Twentieth Amendment also moved the start of Congress from March 4th to January 3rd.
Soon after in January 2017, Biden presided over a joint session of Congress when Congress tallied 2016 presidential election electoral votes then, officially making Trump President-Elect. Biden enforced rules, not letting Representatives’ complaints be entertained because these objections were not signed by a Senator. Biden’s 2012 presidential election Vice President opponent, then–Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, also presided over this session.
Pre–baby boomer Biden will make history in terms of age. He will be the first member of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) to be President. For only the second time since World War I, a new Democratic President will be older than the outgoing President. After being one of the youngest U.S. Senators in history, the 78-year-old Biden will be the nation’s oldest President the moment he takes office, being more than 20 years older than the median age (around 56 years old) of Presidents who took office since 1960.
On Election Day 2020, at 77 years old, 11 months, and 14 days, Biden was the exact age President Ronald Reagan was when he left office. Biden is older than four of the five Presidents who are alive; only Jimmy Carter, who left office in 1981 (almost 40 years ago), is older. Carter is the longest-living President in U.S. history. The 133-year-old Biden-Harris ticket is the second-oldest winning presidential ticket, trailing only the 134-year-old 1948 Truman-Barkley ticket, which was the same age as the losing 1996 Dole-Kemp ticket.
Biden is notable in other respects. He will be the second Catholic President—the first since 35th President John F. Kennedy. Biden will be the first Delaware President, and the first Pennsylvania-born President since 15th President James Buchanan. He will also be the President with the longest Senate career (between 1973 and 2009).
Biden will become the third consecutive junior or senior President since George W. Bush, who has been called Junior even though he technically is not Junior. Obama, Trump, and Biden are all either junior or senior even if they do not usually go by these endings. Since Obama’s father is Barack Obama Sr., President Obama is Jr. Trump’s oldest son is Donald Trump Jr., and thus, President Trump is Sr. Biden is also a Jr. Like Trump, Biden named his oldest son after himself. The late Beau Biden was born Joseph Robinette Biden III.
Harris will also make history in other major ways. She will be the first African American (Jamaican American), Asian American (Indian American), Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate (Howard University), and Democratic West Coast Vice President. She will also be the first daughter of immigrants to be Vice President. However, contrary to what many people think, Harris will not be the first Vice President of color or the first multiracial Vice President. Native American Charles Curtis, Vice President to President Herbert Hoover between 1929 and 1933, made history in those ways. Curtis’ mother was a Native American, and his father was white. Curtis was a registered Kaw Nation member. However, Harris will be the highest-ranking non-white/non-part-white U.S. government official in history. She will also be the first former State Attorney General to be Vice President since Walter Mondale. She will be the second California Vice President, the first being Richard Nixon.
Harris has a long record of making history. In 2003, she became the first female, African American, and Indian American District Attorney of San Francisco. She also was the first African American woman to hold this position in California. Then, in 2010, she became the first female and first African American Attorney General of California. In 2017, she became the first-ever Indian American Senator, the second African American female Senator, and the first Asian American female Senator of California. In 2020, she was the first female of color and first Asian American on a presidential ticket; she was also the first African American and the first Asian American nominated to be Vice President by a major political party.
It is only fitting that Harris’ Secret Service code name is Pioneer. Everyone in Secret Service protection chooses a code name from a White House Communications Agency–approved list. Candidates’ relatives under this protection choose approved names that begin with the same first letter as the code name of the candidate. Thus, Harris’ husband’s code name most likely will begin with “P.” Biden is keeping his Celtic Secret Service code name from when he was Vice President. This code name highlights Biden’s Irish ancestry, ancestry shared by Obama and 21 other Presidents. Jill Biden is also continuing her Second Lady Capri Secret Service code name.
Known as the “female Obama,” Harris has major similarities with Obama. Both were born to a father of African descent and a non–African American mother. Although these two individuals are multiracial and mainly describe themselves as African Americans, Obama is less likely to be labeled as multiracial. Both have had fractured relationships with their fathers. These history-making top government officials also spent some of their childhoods living overseas—Obama in Indonesia and Harris in Canada. They also have law degrees. Both served in state government just before being U.S. Senators. Both of them were considered to have very bright political futures. In just their fourth year in the U.S. Senate, they were elected to major national office with Biden just after running for the Democratic Presidential nomination against Biden. Both Obama and Harris have been subject to “birther” theories that are associated with Trump.
Jill Biden became an integral part of the Biden family. Beau and Hunter, the only remaining children from Joe Biden’s first marriage, thought of Joe and Jill Biden’s marriage as “the four of us getting married.” These two sons have thought of Jill Biden as their “mom,” replying to a question about their stepmom by saying, “We don’t have a stepmom.”
Like Jill Biden, Harris has a loving relationship with her husband’s two children from his prior marriage (Cole and Ella). Instead of using the term stepmom, Cole and Ella coined “Momala” to refer to Harris. During Harris’ first speech after becoming Biden’s running mate, Harris said, “My family means everything to me, and I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and, certainly, ‘Vice President’ will be great. But ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most.” Harris and Emhoff’s first wife, whom Harris considers a “close friend,” have been cheerleaders together at Ella’s sporting events.
— Native Washingtonian Miriam Edelman graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, with majors in political science and urban studies and a concentration in history. For almost five years, she worked on Capitol Hill in personal offices and on committees in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. In May 2012, she graduated with a master’s in public administration from Cornell University, where she was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honorary society for public administration. Primarily for her work founding the Jade Moore Forum on American Politics in memory of her late friend, Edelman was one of two graduate student recipients of the Cornell-wide Distinguished Leadership Award. She also has a master’s of science in social work (focusing on policy) from Columbia University. She aims to continue her career in public service.