Almost any action of the House, including change of party affiliation by a member, eventually gets put in the context of what it means for the next election for speaker, which will occur in 2012 after the 2011 elections.
The Philadelphia legislator has been as consistent a vote for the Republican Party as there has been ever since his first year in the state House in 2004.
From a symbolic standpoint, it is nice to hit the magic number of 50 - as in the most Republicans in the 122-member House since Reconstruction. But the Republicans' strength in the House is far more than 50 because of other Democrats, who like Bounds, consistently vote with them.
In short, Bounds' switch should not be considered a surprise, neither here in Jackson nor in his Neshoba County district.
What is more of a surprise is that Speaker Billy McCoy, described by critics with disdain as a worm farmer, has held on to the House for the Democrats even though Mississippi is one of the most Republican-leaning states in national elections.
It is even more surprising that McCoy has maintained Democratic control of the House during the gubernatorial tenure of Haley Barbour, who is viewed as one of the nation's top Republican strategists.
McCoy's long tenure of success in the House is the result of the same tenacity that led him to worm farming. The McCoys have farmed a lot of crops in northern Prentiss County, but his research led him to the realization that someone willing to put in an honest, hard day's work could make a good and honorable living as a worm farmer.
While many of McCoy's political opponents have resorted to crude personal attacks, that has not been the case with Barbour. The McCoy-Barbour relationship has had its share of ups and downs. It actually appears to be pretty good right now. But even during the many contentious moments, Barbour has never appeared to view McCoy as anything other than a formidable politician.
If McCoy decides to run for another term of speaker in 2011, he will no doubt be a formidable candidate.
Bounds' decision to switch parties will have no impact on whether McCoy is re-elected as speaker in 2012 or whether a Republican or Democrat is elected speaker.
Bounds would have been a vote for the Republican-favored candidate whether he switched parties or not.
When McCoy won the post of speaker by the slim 63-61 margin in 2007 over Jeff Smith of Columbus, another Democrat who is a consistent Republican vote, Bounds was a Smith supporter.
Truth be known, since that vote, with a few noticeable exceptions, McCoy has picked up strength, when the floor votes have been perceived as tests of the speaker's leadership.
Of course, those votes at this point will mean very little in determining who will be elected speaker in 2012. Whether McCoy runs is anybody's guess. I am not even sure if he knows at this point whether he will seek a third term as speaker.
If he decides to run, it will be another tough, bare-knuckled contest - just as the one against Smith was in 2007.
If McCoy does not run, it will be even more chaotic. Several House members already are jockeying for position to be the early favorite. But I think there is a good chance the eventual speaker could be one who few are thinking of right now.
If there was absolutely no change in the membership of the House, my prediction is that McCoy, or one of his allies, would win the speaker's post in 2012. But that will not happen. There will be change.
The key, though, will be what happens in the 2011 elections. Can the Republicans increase on their current 50-member minority or convince enough like-minded Democrats to vote for their candidate?
Scott Bounds had been convinced long before he changed parties.
Bobby Harrison is Capitol Bureau chief in Jackson for the Daily Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 353-3119.