As we reported in December, the latest Census Bureau numbers show that the South and West were the fastest-growing regions in the country last year. Of the top 10 state growing in the most, half are in the South.

The Houston Chronicle reports today on how this will shift the balance of power in Congress:

Texas is on track to be the biggest winner when all 435 House seats are reallocated after the 2010 Census, getting as many as four new districts and Electoral College votes because of population gains. [...]

The projections suggest a continuation of a trend seen since the World War II era: a national population shift toward the South and West and away from the East and Midwest. Arizona and Florida will pick up two seats apiece, with one each for Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington, Polidata predicts.

In the losing column, Polidata suggests New York and Ohio will lose two seats apiece; and Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each will be stripped of a seat.

In other words, the states of the Northeast and Midwest -- which some pundits argue should be the focal point of future political strategy for the Democrats -- will be shrinking in influence, while the South and West grow more politically important.

The impact of Hurricane Katrina looms large -- both in helping knock a seat out of Louisiana, but also potentially giving another seat to Texas, depending on whether evacuees stay or not.