How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Most Powerful Women...not so on Election day

November 3, 2010: 3:54 PM ET

by Patricia Sellers

They argued that their business backgrounds would help lift California out of its economic morass, but we pretty much knew that power in business wouldn't translate to political favor. Not in this era of populist rage against corporate America.

Election results aren't yet fully reported, but the vote count for the two women who once ruled Fortune's Most Powerful Women list stands at:

Meg Whitman, 41%, vs. Jerry Brown, 54%, in the race for California governor. The former eBay (EBAY) CEO spent more than $140 million of her own money, a record for a non-Presidential candidate. What did it get her? Over 3 million votes. Despite her loss, Whitman could reemerge as a moderate voice in the Republican Party, the anti-Sarah Palin.

Carly Fiorina, 43%, vs. Barbara Boxer, 52%, for the U.S. Senate, representing California. Fortune's original Most Powerful Woman in Business (our No. 1 when Carly was at Lucent and we launched the list in 1998) knows how to take a punch. Fiorina got dumped by the board at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), battled cancer last year, and now suffered this. She loves the limelight and I bet she'll be back.

One more female ex-CEO casualty on the GOP ticket: Linda McMahon. The former WWE boss, who ran her husband's wrestling empire, lost to Richard Blumenthal, 44% to 54%, in the Connecticut contest for the U.S. Senate.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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