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

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

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

On Sunday (Oct. 15), an influential group of Arab-Americans from the Detroit area formally endorsed Bush. The Arab-American Political Action Committee 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 to increased 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 the respondents said their votes may change by Election Day, and support for Bush does not necessarily translate to support for Republican congressional candidates.

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

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

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

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

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