Back in 1948, when most of America woke up the day after the presidential election and learned to its surprise that Harry Truman had defeated Thomas Dewey, California counted. It was only because of this state’s late-reporting vote that Truman won out.
But there was no suspense about California’s vote this month: the television networks called the state for Democrat Barack Obama the moment the polls closed.
In 1948, Truman whistle-stopped the state, speaking from the rear balcony of his campaign train in big cities and small towns like Madera, Turlock and Tulare. People saw their president in the flesh, something only a few wealthy Californians could do this year.
The outcome here was so certain this time — as it has been since 1992 — that neither Obama nor Republican Mitt Romney nor either of their vice presidential running mates held even one campaign rally in the Golden State. They came here only when their cash supplies began running short, essentially to recharge their wallets from the nation’s leading political ATM...