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

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

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

The shift in support is attributed to the October 23 endorsement of Bush by the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council Political Action Committee (AMPCC-PAC). The group's endorsement cited Bush's outreach to the Muslim community and his pledge to end the use of secret evidence in INS deportation hearings. (AMPCC-PAC is an affiliated PAC of the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council. CAIR is an AMPCC member.)

Ninety-four percent of the voters surveyed said they had heard about the endorsement. Eighty-five percent of respondents said the endorsement was either the major factor or one of the factors that influenced their choice of candidates.

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

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

"With the slim margin favoring Bush in Florida, Muslim voters could have a hand in picking the next president," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. Florida was ranked number eight (3 percent) in terms of exit poll responses.

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

The majority of Muslim respondents were male (61 percent) and were age 39 or younger (68 percent).

In August, thousands of Muslim activists and leaders nationwide received a step-by-step guide to increasing political participation in local communities. The American Muslim Voter Registration Guide was distributed by CAIR as part of the largest campaign of its type targeting Muslim voters. September 15 was designated Muslim Voter Registration Day.

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

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