1. The Clintons

California still loves them. In early return, Hillary Clinton was leading by a far bigger margin that polls showed.

  1. Moderate Democrats

Voters went with the recommendation of the moderate (and fiscally conservative) Gov. Brown in backing the more moderate Hillary Clinton. Loretta Sanchez appeared to be making it into the top two in the Senate race. And moderate Democratic legislators ran strong in early returns.

  1. The San Diego legal community

Trump’s racist attack on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel was brilliantly countered by San Diego lawyers who know the judge well. The San Diego legal community looked very good in its moment in the national spotlight. In a way, the judge and other San Diego lawyers, in less than two weeks, did more damage to Trump than 16 Republican candidates and all their consultants and handlers managed in over a year.

  1. The Central Valley

Clinton, Trump, and Sanders all spent time there—indeed, the presence of Hillary Clinton, almost certainly the next president, in Fresno in June of an election year was stunning.

  1. Republicans for Clinton and Sanchez.

Lots of California Republicans will be voting for Democrats this fall—the #NeverTrump crowd for Clinton, and Republicans without a Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race for Sanchez.


  1. Truth

This state just suffered through multiple rallies from Donald Trump, who specializes in conspiracy theories, misinformation and outright lies. Bernie Sanders, viewed up close, wasn’t much better.

Even worse was all the hype about the California primary mattering—it didn’t do anything more than ratify verdicts already delivered. Democrats won. In the end, it didn’t draw much attraction, or even any of the promised surge in turnout.

2. Trump

The GOP nominee spent considerable time campaigning in a state where he had no primary opponent – and where he has no chance of winning. And he hurt himself with his attack on a California judge.

3, Trade

Trade is important to California. But all three presidential candidates – and the two Democrats who made it through in the U.S. Senate race – were hostile to it. These candidates ran not only against newer trade agreements backed by President Obama but previous trade agreements that were important for the growth of the state and the world. This is not good news.

  1. Bernie Sanders

He looked out of his element in California—puzzled by a big, diverse state unlike his own. California is a complex place, but Sanders doesn’t do complexity—and California exposed that. He leaned on lots of tropes and cant that didn’t apply here, on issues from economics to water.

  1. Former Republican Party chairmen

A riddle: How many former California GOP chairs does it take to create an all-Democratic runoff for U.S. Senate? Two.

If Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim had gotten their heads together and figured out which one of them should have run, it’s likely that the Republicans would have had a candidate go through to November.