updated 12/21/2004 5:39:24 PM ET 2004-12-21T22:39:24

President Bush made increasing his support among Hispanic voters a leading goal in 2004, and he apparently achieved that aim largely because of gains among Hispanic men, a tracking poll suggests.

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Hispanics are the nation’s fastest-growing minority group, though they made up only 8 percent of the overall vote nationally. They are a key voter group in swing states such as Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico,d Florida and Nevada.

Democrat John Kerry hoped to win enough support from Hispanics to win in a couple of those states, but Bush swept all five.

The National Annenberg Election Survey found Bush’s overall support among Hispanics was 35 percent in 2000 but grew to 41 percent in 2004. Exit polls of voters indicated a similar shift.

Bush’s stronger performance with Hispanics helped him fend off Kerry in several states, especially in New Mexico, where Bush narrowly won this time. Democrat Al Gore won New Mexico in 2000.

Exit polls indicate Bush’s support among Hispanics in New Mexico was 44 percent, higher than the 32 percent he got against Gore four years ago. About a third of New Mexico voters were Hispanic.

The Annenberg study found Bush’s support among Hispanic men nationally grew from 34 percent in 2000 to 46 percent this year.

Annenberg examined the presidential preference of Hispanic voters in the eight weeks before the election and the two weeks after in both 2000 and 2004.

Hispanic women supported Bush at about the same levels — about 35 percent — in both 2000 and 2004, Annenberg found.

Bush got a majority of the support among Hispanics in the South — 55 percent — compared with 41 percent in 2000, according to the Annenberg report. In the Northeast, Bush improved from 20 percent support in 2000 to 35 percent support in 2004, the polling found.

The president got more support among Hispanics who asked to be interviewed in English than those who wanted to be interviewed in Spanish, Annenberg found.

The Annenberg survey was based on interviews with 703 Hispanic registered voters in 2000 and 906 in 2004. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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