I guess it's mostly the top-line race that gets everyone's attention, although the result of California's vote for President is basically a forgone conclusion. (I've had people urge me to re-register to vote at Fernley in order to vote in a "swing" state, but I don't think it would be ethical until I'm spending more than half my time there; at the moment it's less than 25% overall.)
Personally, I don't like the winner-take-all, first-past-the-post method that California (and 47 other states) use for allocating their state's electoral votes. As anyone who has read my writing for long knows, I prefer instant runoff voting (the "Hugo Awards" method, often inaccurately called the Australian Ballot). But furthermore, I'm troubled by the fact that winner-take-all effectively disenfranchises even the second-largest political party (in California, the Republicans, although if current trends continue they're going to drop to third behind Decline to State). This seems unfair to me.
The two states that allow potential splitting of their electoral votes use the Congressional District method: The candidate with the plurality of votes in each congressional district gets 1 electoral vote. The candidate that statewide gets a plurality of votes gets the extra two electoral votes. I could even see a variation that splits those "bonus votes," for instance if no candidate polls a majority, all candidates polling at least 40% get one "bonus" electoral vote. (You could never have more than two candidates both polling 40%, of course, so at most the two votes would be split evenly.)
California has more electoral votes than any other state, but most years they drop as one large clod in one party's lap. But California is not uniformly Democratic or Republican. Assuming that the electoral vote followed the composition of the current Congress, California's 55 electoral votes would split 37-18 in favor of the Democratic Party. (How that's apt to change with the new districts drawn up by the nonpartisan redistricting commission, I don't know.) No matter how it affects my own personal preferences, I just think something that more fairly distributes the electoral vote based on the popular vote would be an improvement to the current system.
Presidential election aside, the main reason I waited until my return from Europe to prepare my ballot was so I could spend time thinking over the various ballot propositions. I voted for Proposition 30, although personally I wish it raised all income tax rates, even if only a token amount at the low end, not just the $250K and up rates. I don't like paying taxes (who does), but I recognize TANSTAAFL. I also see in Nevada, where there is no personal income tax and where both property and sales taxes are substantially lower than in California, that there are also significantly fewer public services. For instance, one of the reasons there's no practical way to get from Fernley to Reno except by private car — not even a Greyhound bus stop — is that such services are not economical on a stand-alone basis and there's no state money to pay the necessary subsidy for buses outside of Carson City, Reno, and Las Vegas. You get what you pay for, and California has a very high level of government-funded services, and they cost money. I suppose there are many people who are convinced that they personally don't benefit from any government services, so they don't see why they should pay taxes for them. But I went to a state-supported college (CSU Chico), and I'm certain I've paid far more in taxes to California than they spent subsidizing my education, and vastly more than I would have paid had I not gotten that degree. Therefore, I see no problem in continuing to re-invest in education in the long run, since I believe the long-term benefit to the state is high.
I voted no on the competing Proposition 38, even though it's a bit more progressive in its taxation, because among other things, if 38 passes and gets more votes than 30, the "trigger cuts" embedded in this year's budget still go into effect, which could have a catastrophic effect on state services and education.
And don't get me started on the Howard Jarvis people. Part of me wishes that we could run the experiment where they get what they claim to want, which presumably means no taxes, no government, and no services. I wonder how long it would be before they started complaining about there being no roads, no fire department, no police department, and no schools? They wouldn't complain about the lack of public transportation like the Capitol train on which I'm riding, because in their world, Real People Drive Cars and transit is only for sub-humans, I suspect.
That's enough talk of politics. You can't change my mind in any meaningful ways for this election, because I've voted already. Now to wait and see what the results are.