(RNS) Vice President Al Gore is behind both Texas Gov. George W.Bush and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader among likely U.S. Muslimvoters, according to a survey by a leading Muslim advocacy group.

In the non-scientific poll released Tuesday (Oct. 17) by the Councilon American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Bush is supported by 40 percent ofMuslim voters, with Nader receiving 25 percent and Gore receiving 24percent. Those numbers are dramatically different from a similar Junepoll, when Gore led Bush by 32 percent to 28 percent.

The estimated 6 million U.S. Muslims are considered a key swing votein battleground states with high Muslim populations, such as Michigan,California and New Jersey. CAIR officials, however, put the number ofeligible Muslim voters at only between 500,000 and 1 million.

On Sunday (Oct. 15), an influential group of Arab-Americans from theDetroit area formally endorsed Bush. The Arab-American Political ActionCommittee cited Bush's "flexibility" on the Middle East and called him"someone who listens."

CAIR officials attributed Bush's and Nader's rise in the poll toincreased visibility by Nader and Bush's support for ending the use of"secret evidence" by immigration officials in deportation hearings.

Bush's support, however, is far from firm. Fifty-five percent of therespondents said their votes may change by Election Day, and support forBush does not necessarily translate to support for Republicancongressional candidates.

"Muslim voters are individuals and will go with those candidates whoaddress their concerns," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

With the crisis between Jews and Palestinians continuing to erupt inthe Middle East, CAIR officials said they saw no negative reaction tothe Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, anOrthodox Jew.

"If Lieberman was a factor at all, it was because of his positions,not because of his faith," said Mohammed Nimer, CAIR's researchdirector.

The survey of 1,022 likely voters was sent to CAIR supporters,mosques and Muslim community centers around the country, and Nimer saidhe was "hesitant" to say it was a scientific representation of all U.S.Muslims.

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