Fiorina also went after one of her biggest critics—Jeffrey Sonnenfeld—in the debate after Donald Trump cited the Yale management professor's work criticizing the former HP CEO. Fiorina dismissed Sonnenfeld as a "well-known Clintonite."
The problem is that Sonnenfeld, who fired back in an essay for Politico, has the facts on his side: "In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett Packard, the company lost over half its value," Sonnenfeld wrote. "During Fiorina's tenure, thanks to the Compaq deal, profits fell, employees were laid off and value plummeted. Fiorina was paid over $100 million for this accomplishment."
The only big stock gain under Fiorina's tenure was the 7 percent boost after she was fired by a unanimous board vote.
All of these facts helped sink Fiorina's attempt to defeat Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in 2010, a terrible year overall for Democrats. Boxer wound up crushing Fiorina 52.1 percent to 42.1 percent after the incumbent savaged Fiorina's corporate record of layoffs and HP's sinking share price.
Should Fiorina sustain her position in Republican polls, rival candidates will have a field day with that record, making the case that the last thing the GOP wants to do is nominate another Mitt Romney, whom Democrats successfully eviscerated for banking tens of millions of dollars while slashing jobs as a Bain Capital executive.
Fiorina has also rightly taken heavy criticism in recent days for describing a gruesome scene in a Planned Parenthood video that people who have seen all the videos say does not exist. Her answer on abortion and the Planned Parenthood videos thrilled conservatives. But if it does turn out she made the whole thing up, it's going to hurt her over the long term.
Republican voters are clearly hungry for a nonpolitician who will hammer President Barack Obama and current Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in savage and entertaining ways. And as Trump's policy-free "Make America Great Again" shtick fades and his lack of depth on issues becomes clearer with every debate, Fiorina is quickly sliding into the top spot. She easily vaulted over retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who seems to do well in retail politics but comes across in debates as extremely mild-mannered and reasonable, not a great approach in the reality-TV cauldron of the 2016 GOP presidential race.