Over the last week, there's been no shortage of punditry suggesting the 2008 election showed that the South is declining in political relevance, somehow out of step with the rest of the country's march to the left.

Why this argument is being made now, when three Southern battlegrounds turned blue -- while a great swath of, say, the Great Plains is still red -- is a mystery.

But the claim also doesn't hold up to much scrutiny.

For example, one of the big stories in 2008 was the growing political clout of the urban South. Southern metro areas are among the fastest-growing in the country -- a key reason why the South will be increasingly "relevant." These urban centers delivered Florida, North Carolina and Virginia for Barack Obama, as well as making down-ticket races interesting in states like Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Daily Yonder has done a full analysis of the 372 counties nationally that changed their party vote for president between 2004 and 2008. Most shifted to Democrats: Out of the 372, 327 are counties that voted for George Bush in 2004 but chose Obama in 2008.

About a third (112) of the counties that flipped in 2008 where in urban areas, and all but one -- Beaver County, Pennsylvania -- went from Republican to Democrat. Fully 32 of the 111 urban counties that shifted Democrat in the presidential vote were based in the South.

You can view the complete list here.