Both Whitman's and Fiorina's campaigns were premised on the notion that they could pick the lock that Democrats have had on women voters. They spent much of their time courting women and framing issues in ways meant to attract women. Toward the end, Whitman was carpet-bombing California homes with fold-out mailers that touted her husband and sons and the lessons she had learned from her own mother.
On Tuesday, Whitman and Fiorina both lost women by 16 points.
That is because for all the attention given gender, women back women candidates when the candidates agree with them on issues and when the candidates convince women that they understand voters' lives. The same reasons, that is, that men back women candidates. The reason that gender gaps exist in many races, in California and nationally, is that women are ideologically more attuned to Democratic candidates.
Tuesday's exit poll showed that 30% of women described themselves as liberal, compared to 24% for men. Only 31% of women called themselves conservative, to 35% for men.
"The notion that somehow a lot of women vote for a female candidate just because she's female doesn't hold water," said Darry Sragow, a Democratic strategist.
There are still two Californias.
Overall, coastal voters sided with Boxer, 56% to 40%; inland voters sided with Fiorina 55% to 39%. Coastal voters sided with Brown by 21 points; inland voters sided with Whitman by 9. Coastal voters narrowly supported Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana; inland voters opposed it. Coastal voters strongly opposed the "tea party"; inland voters strongly supported it.
Tellingly, the only congressional seats Democrats were in danger of losing were two hotly contested inland seats. Some coastal Democrats saw their vote tallies ebb, but they still won overwhelmingly.
In inland areas, Republican political veteran Allan Hoffenblum said, the major GOP candidates did well. But in modern California, there are just not enough of those places.
"It's turned into a regional party," he said.
Each Sunday, The Week examines implications of major stories. It is archived at latimes.com/theweek