With former Governor Mark Warner running in Virginia and former Governor Jeannie Shaheen stepping into the race in New Hampshire, the Democrats' already strong senate playing field just got even better. Shaheen already has a 16 point poll advantage over the incumbent John Sununu, who beat her by a bare couple thousand points in the 2002 Republican wave year (with the help of a few felonies by New Hampshire GOP operatives), and the state is trending blue. This one leans hard Democrat.
Virginia is a tougher case, but there is reason to be optimistic. For one, Mark Warner is wildly popular there. For two, the Democrats have the momentum in the commonwealth, winning the last three major state-wide races. And Warner benefits from a contested GOP primary, pitting moderate Rep. Tom Davis (Senator John Warner's preferred replacement) against former governor and presidential candidate James Gilmore. Davis is the much stronger candidate, both because he's more mainstream, and, more importantly, he wasn't an utter disaster as governor like virtually everybody recognizes Gilmore was. But in a GOP primary in a southern state, Gilmore is a very viable candidate. If he's the nominee, Warner should win handily--he was better and more popular at the same job Gilmore had. If Davis gets the nod, the race becomes more interesting.