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Facts and Figures About Biden’s and Harris’ Historic Victory
By Miriam Edelman

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.

Joe Biden
Biden will be the 15th Vice President to be President. He will be the sixth Vice President to be elected President and the first one since 1988. He was the second former Vice President to be elected President and the first to defeat an incumbent President. He is also the former Vice President to return to become President in the quickest amount of time (one term). He is the third two-term Vice President to become President; the first two are Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush.

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

Presidents Who Were Vice Presidents

Years as Vice President

Vice President of Those Presidents

If Vice President of Third Column Was Senator Before Being Vice President

Years of Senate Tenure of Third Column Vice President

Years When Sworn Into Senate

John Adams


Thomas Jefferson




Thomas Jefferson


Aaron Burr


3/4/1791 to 3/3/1797




George Clinton




Martin Van Buren


Richard Mentor Jackson


12/10/1819 to 3/3/1829


John Tyler






Millard Fillmore






Andrew Johnson






Chester A. Arthur






Theodore Roosevelt


Charles W. Fairbanks


3/4/1897 to 3/3/1905

1897, 1903

Calvin Coolidge


Charles G. Dawes




Harry S. Truman


Alben Barkley


3/4/1927 to 1/19/1949, 1/3/1955 to 4/30/1956

1927, 1933, 1939, 1945, 1955

Lyndon Baines Johnson


Hubert Humphrey


1/3/1949 to 12/29/1964, 1/3/1971 to 1/13/1978

1949, 1955, 1961, 1971, 1977

Richard Nixon


Spiro Agnew






Gerald Ford




Gerald Ford


Nelson Rockefeller




George H.W. Bush


Dan Quayle


1/3/1981 to 1/3/1989

1981, 1987

Joe Biden


Kamala Harris




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.

Jill Biden
Biden’s wife Dr. Jill Biden, whom Joe Biden proposed to five times, and the Bidens’ dog Major will also make history. At 69 years old, Jill Biden will be the oldest First Lady. She will be the first First Lady who has a Doctorate in Education. She intends to continue teaching when she is First Lady, making her the first First Lady to have a job not in the White House. She was the first Second Lady to have a paying, nonpolitical, nonlegal job when she was Second Lady. Jill Biden is known as Dr. B. to her students, some of whom do not know whom she is married to. The Bidens’ German Shepherd dog Major will be the first shelter dog to live in the White House.

Kamala Harris
In the centennial year of women gaining the right to vote in the nation, U.S. Senator Harris will become the United States’ top female government official in history. She will be the first-ever female Vice President, just a heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world. As a result of the fourth time of a female being on a major party’s presidential ticket, a female finally will be in White House for the first time as a top elected official (previous females on these tickets were Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President for Democrats in 1984, Sarah Palin for Vice President for Republicans in 2008, and Hillary Clinton for President for Democrats in 2016—as a 2020 Elector in New York, Clinton has now officially voted for Harris in the Electoral College).

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 overseasObama 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.

Douglas Emhoff
Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, a lawyer who was born seven days before Harris, will also make history. He will be the first male spouse of a President or Vice President, and he will be the first Jewish Presidential or Vice Presidential spouse. He will be the United States’ first Second Gentleman. Unlike history-making Jill Biden who will keep teaching as First Lady, Emhoff is giving up his private law practice to help Harris.

Some Similarities
There are some noteworthy similarities between the future First and Second Families. Both Biden and Harris are part of families that include children from prior marriages of Biden and Harris’ husband. Unlike Harris, who does not have biological children of her own, Biden has a child from his current marriage. Joe Biden, Jill Biden, and Douglas Emhoff, not Harris, were all married to different people before their current marriages. Joe Biden and Harris both met their current spouse on a blind date.

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.

More history will be made. Since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was reelected Speaker on January 3, 2021, for first time, the top two people in the Presidential Order of Succession will be females and will stand behind Biden at the State of the Union address. These top two female U.S. government officials in U.S. history have represented at least part of California in Congress.

— 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.