Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, says the new census data out Tuesday gives Republicans an edge in 2012. 

Sessions told The Ballot Box the shift in population from Democratic states in the Northeast and industrial Midwest to Republican-leaning states in the South and Southwest means the GOP will have the chance to expand its majority in the House next cycle.  

"I think anytime you see a shift from North to South, it means a better advantage for Republicans," said Sessions. "And I intend to take full advantage of it."    

Republicans netted 63 House seats in the 2010 election, and now several Democratic states are losing congressional seats ahead of 2012. 

The new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), pushed back against GOP optimism Tuesday, arguing the census data "pours cold water on the Republicans' hype that redistricting is a disaster for Democrats." 

In a statement, Israel said the final numbers are better than expected for his party, noting that "Democratic communities and constituencies have grown in size in states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Washington."

Still, Sessions said, "the dramatic shift to conservative Southern states" gives the GOP an opportunity for expansion, even among traditionally Democratic constituencies. 

"I see this as an opportunity for our party to highlight itself in terms of candidates who will come out of some non-traditional areas as the Republican Party builds and shares with Hispanics, with Asians," said Sessions. "This is a time to highlight our desire to bring them further into the political process."