Most Powerful Women…not so on Election day

November 3, 2010, 11:54 PM UTC

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 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 , 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.