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Opinion: Top 5 Losers on Election Night

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Opinion: Top 5 Losers on Election Night

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There are always more losers than winners on election night. So picking the biggest losers is tough. Here, bravely, are your blogger's nominations for the top five losers of Election night.

5. Prognosticators and pundits

They told us these elections would be a game changer in California politics. They weren't. Worse still, those who have to make predictions about the November elections got no useful data from these elections. Turnout was so low that these June races tell us nothing about November, which is likely to be a high turnout election because of the Obama vs. Romney contest.

4. National Democrats

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team were hoping that California would produce a half-dozen additional Democratic seats. That doesn't appear to be in the cards. Even worse, Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman were the top two finishers in their district -- which means, under California's system, the two will face each other in the fall general election. That Democrat vs. Democrat battle will suck money into this personality contest that might have gone to making gains for the party elsewhere.

3. Overhyped Angelenos.

Carmen Trutanich, a candidate for LA district attorney, seemed to be on the rise, with big-name endorsements from Gov. Jerry Brown and others. But he was locked in third place late in the night, and looked like he might miss the runoff.

In the 50th Assembly District, Torie Osborn was relentlessly touted by progressive groups as an authentic grass roots candidate, taking on the party machine. She was running fourth in a four person race. (UPDATED: she did better as the night went along, finishing a close third and just missing the top two general election).

2. Independent candidates.

California's fastest-growing group of registered voters is non-partisans. But non-partisan candidates fared poorly, despite considerable hype. Most notably, San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, who made national headlines by leaving the Republican party to become an independent, was trailing in that race and seemed likely to finish third, missing a runoff that will feature a Republican and a Democrat candidate. Just like nearly every other race in the state

1. Good government groups and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Redistriciting reform and the top-two primary were supposed to reinvigorate legislative elections, with competition and talk of big ideas. At least that's what advocates of these reforms told us. None of that happened. Indeed, turnout fell and legislative races attracted more attention than anywhere else. Compare that to Wisconsin, which saw huge turnout during a bitter partisan recall attempt against a Republican governor by Democrats.

This should be a lesson: If your goal is voter engagement, partisan fights -- not political reform -- are what you want. Partisanship is underrated.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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