Updated Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Both campaigns in Washington's nationally watched gubernatorial race said it's likely the winner won't be known on election night in the state's all-mail election.
Aides to Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna said they could find their candidates behind on election night and still wind up victorious as later votes are counted. So a concession speech seems unlikely.
"I think it's a reasonable assumption both campaigns will continue into Wednesday and possibly Thursday," said Sterling Clifford, Inslee's communications director.
Elections officials estimate that 60 percent of ballots cast will be counted statewide Tuesday night, with 90 percent counted by the end of the week. Counties will start reporting results after 8 p.m.
All eyes will be on Democratic-leaning King County, where past experience indicates McKenna must garner close to 40 percent of the vote to have a chance to win statewide.
Randy Pepple, McKenna's campaign manager, said McKenna could come in as low as 38 percent in King County if he drives strong Republican turnout in other parts of the state — something the campaign has been working on in recent weeks.
A key indicator to watch on election night is whether the vote counting in King County lags that in the rest of the state.
If the night ends with a comparatively high number of votes still uncounted in King County, it would likely spell good news for Democrats in a close race.
Polls also indicate close races for a referendum that would legalize same-sex marriage and initiatives that would allow the sale and use of marijuana and permit charter schools.
ELAINE THOMPSON / AP
In this Oct. 31 photo, Jay Inslee, Democratic candidate for governor of Washington state, speaks during a campaign event in a sporting goods store in Seattle.
TED S. WARREN / AP
In this Oct. 29 photo, Rob McKenna, Republican candidate for governor of Washington state, talks to supporters in Olympia, Wash.