(CNN)Everything old is new again.
The South once played a key role in helping Democrats hold and maintain congressional majorities for much of the 20th century — thanks in no small part to the party’s segregationist leaning.Then, in the early 1990s, the shift of the so-called “solid South” from Democratic to Republican was the fuel for the GOP’s 1994 House takeover and has continued to aid the gains the party has made in the Senate over the past two decades.Now, the South is poised to again shift the balance of political power — although it’s not entirely clear which party is positioned to reap the benefits.Here’s why: According to new population numbers released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday, 10 of the 15 fastest-growing large cities in America over the last decade are in the South. (“Large” cities are ones with more than 50,000 residents.)Read MoreThat includes three of the top four — all of which are in Texas: Frisco (No. 1, with a 71% population increase), New Braunfels (No. 3, 56% growth) and McKinney (No. 4, 51% growth). (Side note: I’ve written in the not-too-distant past about how Texas is going to be the most politically important state in the country over the next decade.)What that Southern population boom means in raw political terms is this: more congressional districts. And with more congressional districts comes not just more voting power in the House but also more electoral votes to give out in future presidential races.
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That change is already happening. According to projections based on population growth (and loss) through the end of 2019, Texas is poised to gain three more House seats following the decennial redistricting process next year, while Florida is projected to gain two. North Carolina also is likely to pick up an additional seat.What the census numbers released this week suggest is that the South is in the middle of a population spurt, not at the end of it. Which means even more potential seat gains come the 2030 census.The question of which side benefits from all of this increased political power is a difficult one. While the South remains a Republican stronghold — particularly at the federal level — the growth of minority communities in states like Georgia and Texas has already made them competitive at the presidential level for Democrats. While the so-called Deep South — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, etc. — may still be off-limits to Democrats, there are signs of Republican slippage almost everywhere else in the region.The Point: The South has always mattered in American politics. But it’s about to matter even more over the next decade.