Once upon a time – maybe it was April – John McCain vowed to compete for California’s electoral votes. Remember?

I was reminded of McCain’s springtime optimism by the latest Field Poll results this morning. They show Barack Obama with a 22-point lead in California.

As has become the pattern in recent presidential elections, the outcome will be decided in a handful of swing states, and California won’t be one of them.

An earlier version of McCain – the guy who wasn’t afraid to challenge his own party – might have made it closer in California.

But the 2008 version – the one who chose Sarah Palin as his running mate – decided to tilt toward his party’s conservative base. If he loses, critics will ask: What was he thinking?