It's been clear for a while that the South's political clout will grow after the 2010 Census data was released next year and used to redo the nation's Congressional districts. But a new projection suggests the region's gains will be even bigger than had been estimated earlier, with Southern states picking as many as eight House seats and Electoral College votes for president.

The new analysis by Election Data Services [pdf] predicts that burgeoning growth in the South and West will pull 12 Congressional seats away from states in the Midwest and Northeast. Here are the states that would gain:

STATE / CONGRESSIONAL SEATS GAINED
Arizona +1
Florida +2
Georgia +1

Nevada +1
South Carolina +1
Texas +4

Utah +1
Washington +1

The gains in the South are bigger than had been estimated a few months ago, when the Great Recession and housing market collapse were slowing migration to Florida and Texas.

But the new analysis suggests Florida's population will grow enough to comfortably pick up a second Congressional seat. Texas is right on the bubble, winning a fourth seat by a margin of just 38,000 people.

These are just estimates: If Texas falls short when the official 2010 Census numbers are released on December 31, EDS says there are 16 states that could overtake Texas to pick up the final seat, lead by New York, California, Arizona, North Carolina and Illinois.

North Carolina's chances of gaining a seat may be even higher, thanks to U.S. foreign policy.

As EDS notes, their analysis doesn't account for military personnel -- which ended up being the decisive factor in 2000, when N.C. beat out Utah in adding a Congressional seat. Over the last decade, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought thousands of members of the armed services to North Carolina's military bases, which will be credited as their official U.S. address for Census purposes.

On the flip side, Louisiana's massive displacement from Hurricane Katrina will likely cause it to lose a district.

Here's a map from EDS showing which states are projected to win and lose from the new 2010 Census numbers:
 

EDS Map Sept10.JPG