Those of us who enthusiastically supported Initiative 522 (to label genetically modified foods) have some good news to cheer tonight: Thurston County has switched sides and joined the Yes camp as of the latest tally, bringing the total number of counties in favor of I‑522 to five.
Meanwhile, the Yes vote statewide climbed to 47.05%, pushing the No vote below 53%, to 52.95%. We are still projecting that I‑522 will be defeated, but it appears that the margin of victory for I‑522’s opponents could be somewhat slim, which reinforces our view that I‑522 could have passed last year, had it been on the ballot like I‑502 (marijuana legalization) and Referendum 74 (marriage equality).
Other counties in western Washington may also flip before the counting ends. Snohomish and Island are both edging closer to being in the Yes camp; the no vote in each is now below 50.40%. The high no vote in Pierce, Spokane and other key swing counties is also coming down, suggesting that the Yes on I‑522 campaign’s response to the No side’s misinformation had a positive and pronounced effect.
Had I‑522 started out in a better position on Election Night, I’d probably be discussing the possibility of a come from behind win in this post.
But unfortunately the $23 million plus spent by Monsanto, DuPont, and the big processed food companies that tried to hide behind the skirts of the Grocery Manufacturers Association had an effect. The no side went to great lengths to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), targeting voters in swing counties. The good news is, they are not going to get the blowout win that they wanted in Washington. The message they were hoping to send will not be sent.
Paradoxically, it appears that as these big corporations increasingly dumped more money into their campaign coffers, they got less of a return. Voters perceived that powerful interests were trying to buy their votes and purchase an election (in part based on news coverage and advertising) and reacted to that.
Our hope is that by the time the election is certified, the spread will be even narrower, and the No vote will be below 52%.