OLYMPIA -- Supporters of Referendum 74, the state ballot measure that would legalize same-sex marriage, are declaring victory this afternoon, even before any more ballots are counted from the general election.
Opponents say they aren't conceding.
Washington United for Marriage scheduled an afternoon press conference to say that their analysis shows victory at hand. Spokesman Andy Grow said the campaign had "some of the best minds available" analyze the numbers from last night's ballot count and compare them with long-time voting trends. Based on the strong vote in King County, and the ballots that are likely still coming in, the lead will hold up, Grow said.
That statement prompted congratulations from other supporters, such as Gov. Chris Gregoire and state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, but skepticism from Preserve Marriage Washington, which spearheaded the opposition.
There hadn't been any new ballots counted since midnight,when WUM supporters described themselves as "cautiously optimistic" but urged patience, Andy Chip of Preserve Marriage said.
Opponents are still behind about 3.5 percentage points, with an estimated 1.3 million ballots still to count. "Although the math is difficult, there remains a path to victory," Chip said.
So what happens if the trends turn around in later ballot counts? "We will issue another statement," Grow said. "But we don't think that's going to happen."
For the record, Spin Control isn't ready to call this race yet, although it is clear that supporters are in a much better position than opponents.