The following press release was released by the Council on American Islamic Relations

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 -- An exit poll released today showed thatmore than 70 percent of Muslim voters surveyed followed the endorsementof national Islamic political organizations and cast ballots for GeorgeW. Bush in the November 7 election. Thirty-six percent of Muslimrespondents said they were first-time voters.

In that survey of 1774 Muslim voters, 72 percent said they voted forBush, 19 percent favored Nader and just 8 percent said they supported AlGore. Those results are a major change over a September poll that showedstronger support for Gore (24 percent). The Council on American-IslamicRelations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, compiledboth surveys.

The shift in support is attributed to the October 23 endorsement of Bushby the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council Political ActionCommittee (AMPCC-PAC). The group's endorsement cited Bush's outreach tothe Muslim community and his pledge to end the use of secret evidence inINS deportation hearings. (AMPCC-PAC is an affiliated PAC of theAmerican Muslim Political Coordinating Council. CAIR is an AMPCCmember.)

Ninety-four percent of the voters surveyed said they had heard about theendorsement. Eighty-five percent of respondents said the endorsement waseither the major factor or one of the factors that influenced theirchoice of candidates.

All figures are based on responses provided by eligible Muslim voters.Surveys were hand-distributed, faxed and e-mailed to Muslim individualsand organizations nationwide.

"Muslim voters clearly followed the lead of Islamic political groups invoting for George Bush. This signals that a Muslim voting bloc must betaken into consideration in future elections," said CAIR ExecutiveDirector Nihad Awad.

"With the slim margin favoring Bush in Florida, Muslim voters could havea hand in picking the next president," said CAIR Board Chairman OmarAhmad. Florida was ranked number eight (3 percent) in terms of exit pollresponses.

Muslims from almost every state responded to the exit poll, with themost responses coming from California (22 percent), Virginia (10percent), Illinois (8 percent), Maryland (8 percent), New York (8percent), Texas (7 percent), and New Jersey (6 percent).

The majority of Muslim respondents were male (61 percent) and were age39 or younger (68 percent).

In August, thousands of Muslim activists and leaders nationwide receiveda step-by-step guide to increasing political participation in localcommunities. The American Muslim Voter Registration Guide wasdistributed by CAIR as part of the largest campaign of its typetargeting Muslim voters. September 15 was designated Muslim VoterRegistration Day.

There are an estimated six million Muslims in America and some 1.2billion worldwide. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in thiscountry.