Some pundits are still debating whether the South is politically important. But both Democrats and Republicans know that the future of Congress may depend on who can gain momentum in the South.
As we've reported before, the South is the fastest-growing region in the country -- and as a result, Southern states will gain up to nine Congressional seats and Electoral College votes after the 2010 Census, mostly at the expense of states in the Northeast.
But which party will benefit from the South's growing political clout? Sam Stein at The Huffington Post takes a look at the battles over redistricting that will happen after the 2010 Census.
The upshot: States vary widely in who draws up new district maps -- and therefore, determining whether new seats will favor Democrats or Republicans. But in all but eight states, governors play a decisive role, with the power to veto or otherwise influence redistricting decisions.
Right now, Republicans have a decisive edge, Stein reports:
[B]ecause of shifting populations, there is likely to be one more congressional seat added in Georgia, California, Nevada and Utah; possibly two more added in Florida and Arizona; and the chance of four more seats added in Texas. Every state on this list, except for Arizona, currently has a Republican governor. All but Utah will hold a gubernatorial election in 2010. If Republicans hold their power they will be well positioned.
Stein misses two more Southern states that others believe could likely add a Representative and elector to pick the 2012 president: North Carolina (which currently has a Democratic governor) and South Carolina (a Republican).
The current redistricting climate may favor Republicans, but many governor's races will be up for grabs in 2010 -- 36 to be exact, compared to just 11 this cycle. Stein also notes there will be more than 1,150 state senate races and more than 4,950 state house races held nationwide in 2010, which will impact post-Census redistricting.
Either way, whoever can win the state political battles of 2008 and 2010 in the South will see their national clout in Congress and the Electoral College significantly grow.