That notion was nothing more than an insistence on replaying elections of the past rather than looking towards the future.
Sometimes the argument was disingenuous, used more to push an otherwise-favored candidate than out of conviction. We heard a bit of it from supporters of Wesley Clark and Mark Warner, who both eventually declined to run. And we heard it often from some Edwards supporters. Thankfully, THANKFULLY, THANKFULLY the Democratic Party didn't buy the idea. Whether just used as an argument or honestly believed, the idea was wrong.
Illinois. Chicago. There's nothing swing about those locations. They're liberal, period. If I were to 'build' the perfect candidate from scratch, I wouldn't have that candidate be from Chicago. And yet we found our candidate there, a candidate who ran a smashingly successful campaign. A candidate who won a larger percentage of the popular vote than anyone else since LBJ in 1964.
Of course, the entire "We must nominate a Southerner in order to win the Presidency!" argument was always nonsense.
First of all, it should have been noted that nominating a Southerner is no guarantee of victory, as 2000 demonstrated. Beyond that, it should have been seen that although Bill Clinton carried some Southern States in both 1992 and 1996, he carried more than 270 Electoral College votes excluding the South. In both 1992 and 1996, Clinton carried four Southern states for 39 and 51 Electoral College votes, respectively. But on both years he carried more than 320 Electoral College votes outside of the South. So Bill Clinton's take in the South was not crucial to his victory but merely supplemented an array of non-Southern states already sufficient to win the Presidency.
Variations on the "Must Nominate a Southerner!" theme:
OKAY, IF MY FELLOW DEMOCRATS INSIST ON NOMINATING A NON-SOUTHERNER, AT LEAST UNDERSTAND THAT THE NOMINEE MUST PICK A SOUTHERNER TO HAVE ANY CHANCE TO WIN
Hardly a guarantee of success. See 2004. See 1988.
Hardly a necessity. See ... um ... 2008! (yes, it's a real stretch to consider Delaware a Southern state in the 21st Century, even if it once was a slave state).
DEMOCRATS HAVE TO CARRY THE SOUTH OR THEY LOSE THE PRESIDENCY
No, they don't. Clinton never carried the South; he won a minority of Southern Electoral College votes in during both of his elections, just as Obama did this year.
NON-SOUTHERNERS CAN'T COMPETE IN THE SOUTH
Sure they can. Obama competed in the South. He didn't win it, but he didn't need to do so. He picked off its second-biggest Electoral prize in Florida, and added North Carolina (tied for 3rd-most Southern Electoral College votes) as well as Virginia (5th-largest).
Listen, I have no problem with Southern candidates. If they best candidate is a Southerner, then by all means nominate that candidate! But if the best candidate is not a Southerner, then the same holds true.
We need to continue to pick the best candidate for President!
Whether they are from Illinois or Maine, California or Alabama, Maryland or Idaho. Geographic aspects of a candidate is nothing but a bonus - it should not be determinative.
And I hope we have all now learned this lesson.