WASHINGTON -- During his whirlwind visit to Las Vegas two weeks ago, President Barack Obama mentioned U.S. Sen. Harry Reid by name four dozen times, gave him a big hug and talked him up as if he was a long-lost brother.
In remarks that could not have been more laudatory, Obama repeatedly characterized the veteran Democratic leader as a man "made of very strong stuff" who was making the right decisions for the state back in the nation's capital.
But as Reid faces an uphill path to win re-election to a fifth Senate term, Obama's enthusiastic endorsement does not appear to have improved the Senate majority leader's standing among constituents, according to a new poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Reid got no bounce from Obama's visit on Feb. 19, when the president spoke highly of him at Green Valley High School and to business leaders at CityCenter, polling indicates.
A larger percentage of voters surveyed (17 percent) said they would be less likely to vote for Reid following the president's visit than said they would be more likely to vote for him (7 percent). Seventy-five percent said Obama's visit would have no effect on how they vote.
"Reid was not helped, and Obama was not any more popular than he was before he came to the state," said Brad Coker, managing director at Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
Obama's day in Vegas "did not have much of an effect" on Reid's re-election chances, notably among independent voters, Coker said.
"The independents hold the key to Reid, and for Reid there is no sign he is cracking them right now," he said.
Mason-Dixon researchers spoke over the phone with 625 likely Nevada voters Monday through Wednesday. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
A political boost for Reid "wasn't the intent of the visit," Reid spokesman Jon Summers said.
"Senator Reid asked the president to come to Nevada to talk about jobs and the economy and in doing so they announced $100 million to help Nevadans who are underwater in their homes," Summers said.
Regarding Obama's trip to Las Vegas, the president's lack of a coattail for Reid to ride says as much about Nevadans' ambivalence toward the president as it does about the senator, Coker said.
Reid's renewed focus on passing jobs bills in the Senate continues to be overshadowed in voters' minds by Obama's association with the unpopular health care debate, including Thursday's daylong health summit , Coker said.
"It would be to Obama and Reid's advantage to get off health care and get onto issues that people want them to work on," Coker said.
But Obama's visit served several purposes for Reid that wouldn't turn up in the numbers, at least not yet, said Mark Peplowski, a political science professor at the College of Southern Nevada.
One purpose is to excite the Democratic base, particularly younger voters and occasional voters who went with Obama in 2008 and need to be re-energized.
"Pollsters now are talking with inveterate voters, but Obama and Reid are looking long term at nine months from now because Harry doesn't have a primary race," Peplowski said.
David Damore, a UNLV professor, said Reid's ability to put Obama together with business leaders, as he did at a fundraiser and again at CityCenter, shows power brokers, including Republican ones, that he can continue to deliver.
That might cement Reid's support later among people who otherwise might think about contributing to his Republican challenger, Damore said.
Contact Stephens Media Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.