Winners Who Weren't on the Ballot

My top five winners from Tuesday's elections (not-on-the-ballot division):

1. Immigrants. This is not your father's California. It turns out that scapegoating unauthorized immigrants for the state's budget problems is a losing strategy, even in a Republican primary, as Steve Poizner learned the hard way Tuesday. His opponent Meg Whitman had to talk tough on amnesty, but stayed away from backing Arizona's tough law on immgiration, despite its popularity among the GOP. The lesson: Even for those who want tougher action on illegal immigration, the issue is not decisive in terms of how they vote.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor scored a big political victory with the passage of Prop 14, the measure to establish a new primary system in which the top two candidates, regardless of party, advance to the general election. In so doing, Schwarzenegger fulfilled his two political reform promises -- redistricting (approved by voters as Prop 11 in 2008) and the open primary (Prop 14). The governor's appointee for lieutenant governor also won a contested Republican primary. Arnold the Duck may be lame, but he's still quacking.

3. Sarah Palin. When not hunting moose, she apparently can surf -- California GOP politics, that is. She showed the power of her political brand by endorsing the surprisingly easy winner in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate Carly Fiorina.

4. Local governments. California's cities dodged a bullet with the defeat of Prop 16, a measure that would have reduced their power to approve public power and alternative energy schemes.

5. Rich people. OK, rich people are always winners. But the rich had a very good day Tuesday, even for rich, with Whitman and Fiorina using their personal wealth to put them over the top. And on the ballot measures, voters made sure that rich candidates will maintain their huge advantages by voting down a modest measure that would have opened the door to the public financing of elections.

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