HAVING got through the California primary - such as it was - the state's voters now turn their attention to the general-election campaign. The candidates should return the favor and pay attention to the state's voters.

But this hasn't happened so far, despite many visits here by President Obama and Mitt Romney. You know how their visits to California tend to work.

Obama flies in, ties up city traffic with his motorcade, appears before an adoring crowd that paid thousands of dollars per chair, zooms over to a movie star's house for more fundraising, and leaves the state without rubbing elbows with a regular Joe or Jolene.

Romney flies in, avoids the big cities where his support is scarce, collects contributions in an appearance at a backer's mansion, and takes a few verbal shots at the state's tax code as he departs.

It has become a political cliche to say California is a giant ATM for presidential campaigns. In general terms, that's OK.

But would it hurt to mix it up a little bit with the 37.9 million California residents who aren't rich or famous?

The closest they come to rubbing an elbow with the hoi polloi is those bittersweet scenes along the motorcade routes during Obama's L.A. visits. Supporters line the sidewalks, excited about the chance to see the president. Unfortunately, if they see him at all, it's through the tinted window of a passing SUV limousine.

Obama drops in on California more than Romney does, because there's more Democratic than Republican money in the state.

But Romney is doing all right here. That doesn't stop him from using California as a rhetorical punching bag. Last month, he ripped the Democrat-controlled state, saying leaders here "raise taxes higher and higher and higher" and "scare away employers." Romney, who has a house in La Jolla, told voters in Jacksonville he and his wife Ann might move to Florida someday because that state doesn't have income tax.

As Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain pointed out, the California corporate tax rate of 8.84 percent is lower than it was under Gov. Ronald Reagan (9 percent) - and lower than Massachusetts' corporate tax rate was under Gov. Mitt Romney (9.5 percent).

It's shades of Romney's errant comment in a press conference in a forlorn shopping mall in North Hollywood last July. Romney called Valley Plaza an example of how Obama's "liberal agenda" has damaged the economy - only to have the mall's former owner say the company doesn't blame Obama for its loan default, and the current owner say it was developing a new project for the site.

Maybe it's best that, after these visits, Californians wind up talking more about the traffic jams and the celebrity dinners than what the candidates had to say.

It would be unrealistic to expect Romney and Obama to treat California the way candidates treat Iowa and New Hampshire, the small, pivotal early-primary states where they actually press the flesh and talk issues with real voters. But would it be too much to ask them to act as if they care about the opinions of the 12 percent of the U.S. population who live here?

-Opinion page staff