Poll: 71 Percent Say Bush's Visit Has No Effect

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If the election were held today, President Bush would get 49 percent and John Kerry 44 percent in northwest Nevada, according to a poll conducted shortly after Bush's visit to Reno earlier this month.

With independent candidate Ralph Nader in the race, Bush had 48 percent and Kerry 42 percent. Six percent were undecided and Nader had 4 percent.

The survey of more than 600 likely voters in Carson City, Washoe and Douglas counties was conducted last week shortly after Bush's June 18 visit to Reno. He spoke to nearly 10,000 people at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

The poll, conducted by Research 2000 of Rockville, Md., for the Reno Gazette-Journal and KRNV News 4, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Fourteen percent of those surveyed said Bush's visit would make them more likely to vote for him, while 71 percent said it would have no effect on their vote. Six percent said it would make them less likely to support him.

"Just because a guy visits your town, what's that got to do with anything?" asked Jeff Woolridge, a Republican from Reno.

Democrats said Bush's numbers might be inflated because the polling was conducted shortly after his visit.

"If a personal visit by Bush has this much impact, it seems shallow," said Chris Wicker, chairman of the Washoe County Democratic Party. "It feels like something that could change."

But Jim Denton, a political consultant and Republican from Las Vegas, said he thinks Bush got a bounce in the polls from the visit.

"I would be encouraged if I were the president," Denton said. "The decision to come to Reno was a good one."

Nevada is considered a key battleground state in what's expected to be a close November election.

Its registered voters are almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. In 2000, Bush won the state's four electoral votes by 4 percentage points, 50-46, over Al Gore. Nevada will have five electoral votes this year.

But northwest Nevada has a strong Republican edge, with Washoe County - the state's second most populous county - having more than 16,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.