While most people watched the electoral college count Tuesday, the race between the first African-American president and the first Mormon candidate was only one of many election firsts. On the state level, politicians of all ideological stripes broke historic barriers in 2012. Here are some milestone events you might have missed.
President Obama gives a speech in Puerto Rico, which just voted to become a U.S. state. Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. in 1898, and while all Puerto Ricans were made U.S. citizens in 1917, they do not have voting representation in the House or Senate, and cannot vote in presidential elections.
Women will now hold a record number of U.S. Senate seats, after increasing from 17 to 20 of the members. Five women won their first terms this year: in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Nebraska and North Dakota. Before the 1992 election, there were only two women serving in the Senate.
1st ever openly gay Senator was elected. Democrat Tammy Baldwin will also be the first female senator from Wisconsin. However, she says, “I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference."
1st Hispanic Senator from Texas. The Tea Party-backed Republican Ted Cruz will be the third Latino in the Senate. Cruz is the first Latino senator from Texas, where 38 percent of the population has Hispanic ancestry.
… all in one person. Mazie Hirino, born in Fukushima, Japan, beat former governor Linda Lingle (R) for the Senate seat. She is a Democrat from Hawaii, and was formerly a representative in Congress.
1st Hindu elected into Congress: Hirino’s former seat in the House was won by Democrat Tulsi Gabbard. She expects to be sworn into office on the Bhagavad Gita, one of the sacred texts for followers of Hinduism.
Gay marriage legalized by popular vote. Gay marriage has, up until this point, only been supported in the court system. Ballot initiatives in past elections have banned gay marriage or civil unions in most states. However, for the first time, in 2012 voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington state approved legalizing gay marriage.
All-female state delegation elected: Newly elected Governor Maggie Hassan (D), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster (both Democrats) will now represent New Hampshire. Never before in history has a state been represented on the national level by only women.
Senator Angus King still hasn’t decided what party he supports. The former governor of Maine ran as Independent and won a seat in the Senate. Experts believe he will caucus with the Democrats.
Marijuana legalized. Washington state and Colorado both voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana, making them the first states to approve it in non-medicinal contexts. A similar referendum was voted down in Oregon. Federal law, which trumps state law, still considers the plant illegal. Following the vote, the Drug Enforcement Administration reiterated its stance that marijuana is an illegal drug and that possessing, using or selling it is a crime.
Puerto Rico voted to become the 51st state of the US. Voters supported a non-binding referendum to become a state. Puerto Rico is now a US territory, with a semi-autonomous status. The measure still requires approval from the Congress, but President Obama has said he will respect the vote.
--Compiled by Ina Stavrum and Allison McCartney for NewsHour Extra