LINCOLN DEMOCRATS. E.J. Dionne�s column today on how the �North will rise again� on the strength of nascent �Lincoln Democrats� is a recognition (finally) of what a lot of us have been saying for months: that the Democratic revival is going to come in the quadrant of states formed by linking Dover (NH), Dover (DE), Des Moines and Duluth. If Lincoln is too antiquated, �Rockefeller Democrats� might be a better, or least more current, moniker. Whatever the labels, this �Northeast strategy� (or, more precisely, the �Northeast-Midwest� strategy) is the key to building Democratic majorities in the Congress, and turning the purple portion of the Midwest to blue would be sufficient to put a Democrat back in the White House.

And if one wishes to broaden the focus fully, throw in the interior West for good measure. In January 2001, there was not a single Democratic governor in any of these eight states. Today there are four, three of whom -- Arizona�s Janet Napolitano, New Mexico�s Bill Richardson, and Wyoming�s Dave Freudenthal -- are coasting to re-election this year (Montana�s Brian Schweitzer is up again in 2008); if either/both Dina Titus closes strong in Nevada and Bill Ritter can hold on in Colorado, the total could jump to five or six. And Tony Knowles could possibly regain Alaska�s governorship at the same time Democrats are throwing scares into House incumbents in eastern Washington, Idaho and Wyoming�s at-large seat -- not exactly what one might call traditionally Democratic-friendly territory.

I respect E.J. who, along with David Broder, is that rare columnist who attends the American Political Science Association meetings each year, if possible; his Philadelphia dateline suggests he was there again this year. But folks like Chris Bowers, DavidNYC, and others (including me) have been talking about this regional correction to the southern realignment for some time now. Yet as recently as a month ago, Dionne�s paper was still putting out 2006 previews discussing how the Democrats� fortunes in the South would be a key indicator of their coming success.

Conventional wisdom and convenient analyses are hard to let go.

--Tom Schaller