Saturday, January 31, 2009

Western North Carolina flips vote to pro-LGBT

I was just now updating the 08-B vote comparison spreadsheet maintained here and I noticed that we had our first Presbytery vote flip today compared to 2001-2002. Western North Carolina shifted a huge 19% pro-LGBT since 2001, when it voted down 01-A. This year it voted in FAVOR of 08-B.

Here's a summary of the votes that appear to have happened today, or recently. The full details are on the spreadsheet.

So far, 22 presbyteries have shifted pro-LGBT, and only 11 presbyteries have shifted anti-LGBT. Almost all of the presbyteries with anti-LGBT shifts are presbyteries which had 30% or less support for equality to begin with.

I've also added a section at the bottom of the tracking spreadsheet that shows the vote by count of presbytery commissioners (1 person = 1 vote). This is presently running at a +5% pro-LGBT shift since 2001-2, which means that we're within striking distance of having a majority of total COMMISSIONERS vote to delete B. Regardless of what happens with the presbytery votes (which are winner-take-all), the total commissioner vote will also be an important symbolic metric.

2001-2 01-A: 54 yes, 21 no --> 72% YES
2009 08-B: 33 yes, 12 no --> 73% YES (+1%)

2001-2 01-A: 26 yes, 62 no --> 30% YES
2009 08-B: 26 yes, 36 no --> 42% YES (+12%)
This is a 12% shift in just 7 years, which is excellent. Many of the presbyteries with very low pro-LGBT support levels appear to be difficult to shift pro-LGBT, but in Huntingdon it happened.

Santa Barbara:
2001-2 01-A: 39 yes, 101 no --> 28% YES
2009 08-B: 20 yes, 85 no --> 19% YES (-9%)
This anti-LGBT trend is consistent with percentage swings that are showing up in other low-LGBT-support presbyteries. Santa Barbara wasn't about to vote yes on 08-B anyway, though the -9% shift is somewhat annoying.

Southern Kansas:
2001-2 01-A: 42 yes, 94 no --> 31% YES
2009 08-B 35 yes, 69 no --> 34% YES (+3%)

Western North Carolina:
2001-2 01-A: 100 yes, 165 no --> 38% YES
2009 08-B: 144 yes, 108 no --> 57% YES (+19%)
This presbytery wasn't even in "swing" voting range, but it just flipped. Congratulations to More Light supporters in Western North Carolina presbytery, and please feel free to share your tips about presbytery get-out-the-vote strategies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New source of 08-B vote tracking now available at this site

I've published a spreadsheet, which I hope to keep up to date, which not only tallies 08-B presbytery votes so far, but also tracks percentage vote trends comparing 2001-2 voting to 2009 voting.

I'm doing this partly because certain other 08-B vote-tracking sites have a vested political interest in NOT revealing that there is an overall pro-LGBT voting trend.

It's very difficult to see the patterns if you just look at total presbytery vote counts, where each presbytery is just "yes" or "no". But if you look at the individual (human) vote counts and compare the past to the present, you can start to see trends. The comparison that the spreadsheet makes is between 2001-2 delete-B voting and 2009 delete-B voting.

Trends so far:

-- Of the 28 presbyteries which have voted so far, 18 have trended pro-LGBT in their vote percentages when you compare to 2001-2 voting, and only 10 have trended anti-LGBT. As more presbyteries vote, this ratio will probably accelerate in favor of even more pro-LGBT shifts.

-- Of the 10 presbyteries whose votes have trended anti-LGBT, 8 of those votes were in presbyteries whose pro-LGBT vote was already under 30%. The other two presbyteries appear to be outlier cases. In other words, the presbyteries whose votes are trending AWAY from general pro-LGBT social trends are presbyteries which were already very heavily anti-gay, and which weren't likely to vote for 08-B in 2009 to begin with.

-- The overall pro-LGBT percentage vote shift is 3.3% so far, using an averaging method that weights each presbytery equally. If I were to weight it by number of voters in the presbytery, it would probably be a higher shift, however it's difficult to do that math until after everybody has voted.

-- There are some significant pro-LGBT shifts in many presbyteries. 7% to 9% pro-LGBT vote shifts are plentiful, and there are a couple of pro-LGBT shifts in the range of 15% to 20%. By comparison, the worst anti-LGBT shift so far is -10%, in Mississippi presbytery.

-- Several presbyteries which realistically couldn't be called "swing" presbyteries in the past have now shifted into the "swing" category, even though they voted no on 08-B this year. So if there needs to be a "next time" for a delete-B amendment, next time those presbyteries will be much more in play, and will be stronger candidates to vote yes.

-- Very few "swing" presbyteries have voted so far, where I define a "swing" presbytery as one that voted pro-LGBT by 40% to 49% (i.e. just barely against 01-A) in 2001-2. So the data that we have so far is kind of weird -- it emphasizes either heavy pro-LGBT or heavy anti-LGBT presbyteries.

-- Whatever it is that Utica (+21%), Northern Kansas (+16%), and Eastern Oklahoma (+15%) Presbytery More Light supporters are doing, everybody find out and imitate it, because it's working.

Even if your presbytery voted "no" on 08-B this year, if you shifted the vote pro-LGBT by 7% or more compared to 2001-2, you should be proud, because that's a pretty solid shift.

Over time I hope to add some more analysis, such as:

- Total pro-LGBT percentage shift calculated across all voted presbyteries at once, instead of just on a per-presbytery basis.

- Prediction graph that shows, visually, the pro-LGBT percentage votes by presbytery in 2001-2 and 2009.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Jersey, Kansas, and Iowa presbyteries vote YES on 08-B

On or around January 17, 2009, three presbyteries voted YES on 08-B: New Jersey, Kansas, and Iowa. Below is a portion of the analysis that I posted to the open morelightpresbyterians email list.


I managed to find an old HTML file that lists 01-A (delete-B) vote counts from 2001-2002, so I was able to run some comparisons for these votes.

In 2 cases the More Light movement significantly increased the percentage of support, and in one case it's basically a wash:

Newton 2001-2: 82 yes, 34 no --> 70.7% YES to delete B
Newton 2009: 63 yes, 16 no --> 79.7% YES

Des Moines 2001-2: 69 yes, 46 no --> 60.0% YES
Des Moines 2009: 52 yes, 37 no --> 58.4% YES

North Kansas 2001-2: 73 yes, 49 no --> 59.8% YES
North Kansas 2009: 71 yes, 23 no --> 75.5% YES

So the numbers suggest that in "safe" presbyteries, we can win by increasing margins. However notice that the increasing margins happened primarily because the number of "no" votes dropped tremendously, in Newton and North Kansas. The larger question is how much the total pro-LGBT percent change will be in "swing" presbyteries.

The notes I have say that the overall presbytery "human" vote count was 43% YES (to delete B) in 2001-2, so it was 57% NO. If my rule of thumb that "we get about 1% shift per year" holds, that means that it could be very close. So it could all come down to get-out-the-vote efforts in the swing presbyteries.

- Bruce