Poll shows the Conservative leader has failed to win over most female voters

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Indy Politics

He may have launched his leadership campaign with a pledge to appeal to "every woman in Britain", but David Cameron has yet to win over the fairer sex, according to an Ipsos Mori poll for the Fawcett Society. After Sarah Brown's pitch-perfect performance at the Labour Party conference in Manchester last week, Conservative Party strategists will be hoping that Samantha Cameron, can pull off a similar trick.

The Conservatives have long been confident that the party leader's glamorous and successful wife will appeal to women, an advantage described as the "Sam factor". The party will need all the ammunition it can get to win over female voters, if the results of the poll are to be believed.

Just 44 per cent of women surveyed say they are satisfied with Cameron's "performance as party leader", compared with 52 per cent of men. While female voters have turned away from Gordon Brown – with more than two-thirds saying they are dissatisfied with his premiership – this has yet to translate into a boost in popularity for Cameron.

Men also seemed more convinced by the Conservative Party as a whole. Almost half of males polled said the opposition had the best leaders, compared with just a third of women.

On the issue of readiness for government, 58 per cent of men thought the Conservatives were up to the job – unlike women, who were split equally on the issue.

Women were also most disillusioned with all the parties, with 30 per cent saying they believed none of them had the best team of leaders – compared with 19 per cent of men.

Commenting on today's poll, Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns on equality issues, said: "David Cameron has done a lot of work appealing to female voters. But today's poll suggests that there is more to be done if they are to be convinced to vote for him at the next general election. We look forward to hearing more from the party, as it fleshes out its policy commitments in this area."

Julia Clark, head of political research at Ipsos Mori, added: "While there has definitely been a move away from Brown among both women and men, this has not necessarily translated into a move towards Cameron among female voters. The data suggests that women, unlike men, have not shifted their full support to Cameron and the Conservative Party despite their dissatisfaction with the Government. This may mean that women are the real 'floating voters' right now."

Those floating voters may well be ensnared by Samantha Cameron. Although she is the daughter of a baronet, and worth more than £30m, an earlier poll found that "Sam Cam" was the political wife to whom most women could relate. Perhaps her appeal lies in the fact that she has to juggle family life with a career in the just the same way as many working mums.

As creative director of the stationery firm Smythson, where she has worked for 11 years, 37-year-old Samantha balances her work with the care of three young children, one of whom is profoundly disabled.