Poll: Cain beats Romney in matchup

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The poll's findings come as Cain battles allegations that he sexually harassed two women while he was president of the National Restaurant Association. Cain called the claims an "intended smear campaign" during an interview on CNN on Tuesday.

Besides Cain, the Quinnipiac survey also had good news for President Obama. Obama's approval, Quinnipiac found, is on the upswing — the poll found Obama's approval at 47 percent  and disapproval at 49 percent, a fairly large shift since a month ago when Quinnipiac found Obama's approval at 41 percent and his disapproval at 55 percent.

Among the Republican primary field, Obama leads from between 5 and 16 percentage points. Against Romney, Obama leads 47 percent to 42 percent, which is an increase of 5 percentage points from Obama in October. Against Perry, Obama leads 52 percent to 36 percent, an increase from a virtual tie of 45 percent to 44 percent in October. Obama leads Cain 50 percent to 40 percent. Quinnipiac did not poll an Obama-Cain matchup in October. Finally, Obama leads Gingrich 52 percent to 37 percent. Gingrich, likewise, was not polled in a matchup against Obama in early October.

"President Barack Obama seems to be improving in voters' eyes almost across-the-board," Peter Brown, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director, said in a statement. "He scores big gains among the groups with whom he has had the most problems — whites and men. Women also shift from a five-point negative to a four-point positive."

Brown said it is not exactly clear why Obama is seeing an improvement in the Quinnipiac poll.

"Whether this is a blip, perhaps because of the death of Moammar Gadhafi and the slight improvement in some of the economic numbers, or the beginning of a sustained upward move in his popularity isn't clear and won't be for some time," Brown continued. "Nevertheless, the movement allows the White House a sigh of relief, for the president's approval had been stuck in the low 40s for some time and even a temporary upward move is good news for the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave."

The poll was conducted from October 25th to October 31. The report on the allegations against Cain first appeared on October 30.