msnbc is the place for politics, we like to say, and, if you haven't noticed, politics is increasingly the place for women. Look at the races we'll be covering tonight in the later editions of Hardball… In South Carolina, Nikki Haley is the frontrunner in the Republican primary for governor. She's managed to hold that position in the face of what we used to call "bad form" by some men in the political world down there. In California, women are the favorites in the Republican primaries for both governor and United States Senator. Meg Whitman made her name and money as the head of eBay. Carly Fiorina is known for being the CEO at Hewlett-Packard. Should they come in first tonight, both of these women stand good chances in the general election this November. They are hardly the sacrificial lambs that female candidates have served as in the past. In Nevada, two women – Sharron Angle and Sue Lowden – are in a battle with Danny Tarkanian for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Both women have at least a fighting chance, should they win tonight, against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. All of these women are newcomers at this level. It's hard not to notice that they are running in the very first elections after the 2008 presidential election, which included a precedent-setting presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton, as well as Sarah Palin’s campaign for vice president on the Republican side. Here's a fact to remember as you watch the returns tonight: Hillary Clinton would not have been such a strong contender for the presidency in 2008 if she had not had the courage to run for the Senate in 2000. That courage is what took her to the highest level of political competition. It could well be that her strong showing is what inspired these other women to test their mettle in the ring. And it's elections like the ones tonight that will tell us whether this new set of women will be top contenders in the future. 53 percent of the voters in 2008 were women. It's an increasing probability, given the way things are going, that our top candidates for our top offices will begin to reflect that statistic. Watch what happens tonight.