"Not only did he win student votes," Schnur adds, "but all those campus visits had a reflective value by reminding older voters that they were young once and why college educations are so important."
Brown also got lucky.
First, Obama was running and that attracted more voters than would have shown up if the governor had succeeded in his first choice: persuading GOP lawmakers to place a tax measure on a special election ballot in 2011.
Second, anti-labor conservatives sponsored an initiative, Proposition 32, aimed at crippling unions. Prop. 32 frightened unions into self-survival action. And they turned out voters who helped pass Prop. 30.
Brown also racked up other achievements in 2012.
A controversial bill to overhaul workers' compensation was all but dead before Brown stepped in, as Times business writer Marc Lifsher reported. The governor personally lobbied reluctant senators and ultimately won over unusually large, bipartisan majorities.
The agreement is expected to provide $740 million annually in new benefits for permanently disabled workers, while reducing overall medical and compensation costs and saving businesses huge hikes in workers' comp insurance.
Business interests are generally happy with this Democratic governor.
Brown also pushed passage of a modest public pension reform, knowing it was needed to persuade voters that Sacramento was doing everything it could to reduce taxpayers' burden.
The compromise satisfied hardly anyone — unions or union critics — but it was more pension reform than had ever been passed by the Legislature.
For new employees, it was designed to eliminate $100,000-plus pensions, raise retirement ages and reduce other benefits. Both current and future employees will have to pay roughly half their retirement costs.
And — like it or not, and most people apparently don't — Brown got the bullet train moving after it had been sidetracked for years. He persuaded the Legislature to spend the initial $8 billion in high-speed rail construction money ($4.7 billion in voter-approved state bonds, $3.3 billion in federal grants).
Of course, that leaves only $5 billion remaining for a $68-billion project. And no one is offering to pay for the rest of this fantasy.
But, again, the grading here is based on effectiveness.
And Brown earned a solid A.