Let's say that Polk wins in 1844 by getting a few thousand more votes in New York. Despite wanting to avoid it, Polk opts to annex Texas on condition that a treaty is negotiated with Mexico first. A western boundary is set at the 102nd Meridian West from the Arkansas to the Pecos. Later on, California becomes an independent Republic separate from the US more or less comprised of today's Nevada and California (with Mexico perhaps keeping San Diego). How does the US develop without California? I imagine Seattle and Portland are developed more. The US may negotiate a base in California somewhere, but I think the effect will be more focus on the northwest.