Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Many of California’s political contests were still in doubt late Tuesday, but long before the polls closed – months before, in fact – everyone knew that President Barack Obama would win the state’s largest-in-the-nation bloc of 55 electoral votes.

Once again, California’s status in presidential politics, as a source of major financing for candidates but a campaign backwater, was ratified.

It’s been 24 years since California voted Republican for the White House and 12 years since the GOP even made an effort here, albeit to no avail. The smallest crossroads in Ohio received more attention from Obama and challenger Mitt Romney this year than the nation’s largest state – except, of course, when they swooped in briefly to raise money.

California’s irrelevance in presidential politics extends beyond the quadrennial partisan duel. With a June presidential primary, the state is equally impotent – again, except as a political ATM – in choosing the parties’ nominees.

Democrats, of course, like the state’s true-blue status.

Its 55 electoral votes are one-fifth of the 270 needed to win the White House and thus are a strong base.

California’s Democratic politicians don’t like their minuscule role in the nomination process, but their sporadic efforts to strengthen it – pushing up the primary for a couple of cycles – didn’t have any effect, so they finally returned to a June primary.

Could California play a more relevant role in choosing future presidents? Yes, but it’s not likely.

Obviously eliminating the Electoral College system and going to a full popular vote would make California’s voters just as important as those of any other state, but that would take a constitutional amendment that a divided Congress is not going to pass.

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