Question 1, Maine's gay marriage referendum, remains a tight contest but gay marriage advocates are heading into the final lap with the advantage, one analyst concludes.

Gay marriage has yet to win a popular vote but proponents hope Mainers will be the first to buck the trend. At least one analysis favors a gay marriage win.

Question 1 asks Mainers to affirm – or reject – a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring. If approved, the law would not go into effect; gay men and lesbians would not be allowed to marry, but gay marriage would not be banned outright. That is, the Legislature would be free to enact a new law during its ordinary session. Which is different from a voter-approved constitutional gay marriage ban – such as California's Proposition 8 – that leaves lawmakers and courts impotent on the issue. A ban severely hamstrings gay marriage advocates options.

In a last-minute Monday post, statistician Nate Silver says the contest will be tight, no doubt hinging on voter turnout, but gives the advantage to supporters of gay nuptials.

“The tight polling, certainly, should keep everybody on their toes,” Silver says, “and gay marriage could quite easily be overturned.”

“But I'd still put the Yes on 1 side as about a 5-to-2 underdog,” he adds.

Upholding the law would boost momentum in states such as New York and New Jersey and the District of Columbia which are considering legalizing gay marriage. And greatly deflate the sails of social conservatives who quickly altered their opposition tune from elected officials – not activist courts – should decide on gay marriage to voters are the ultimate arbitrators when New England lawmakers began approving the unions.

Opponents of gay marriage in Maine recycled many of the arguments used last year to pass Proposition 8, including the assertion that legalizing gay marriage is a ploy to teach schoolchildren about being gay. The campaign also employed other arguments, including a bizarre claim that marriage is for adults.

“If Question 1 fails, homosexual marriage will not become equal to traditional marriage because traditional marriage will be totally eliminated,” the Yes on 1 campaign said in an email to supporters. “Marriage will be genderless. It will exist solely for the benefit of adults.”