Monday, February 23, 2009

Feb. 21 presbytery vote wrapup and comments

I finally received the John Knox vote count yesterday, so here's how the weekend voting shaped up, with comments.

High-level view of Saturday 2/21 votes:
Yes votes: 9
No votes: 6
No-to-yes flips: 4 out of a target 5
Previous "yes" presbyteries held at "yes": 5 out of 5
Nasty surprises: 0
Amazingly positive surprises (e.g. unexpected flips): 0
Annoyances: 4
Bruce's ranking of the weekend: "sunny with occasional clouds"

High-level view of everything so far:
Presbyteries shifted pro-equality: 60
Presbyteries shifted anti-equality: 19
Ratio of pro-equality to anti-equality presbytery shift: 3 to 1 (!)

Total no-to-yes flips: 15
Total yes-to-no flips: 0 (!)
Total "almost flipped" no-to-yes: 4 (voted "no", but very close)
Total no-to-yes flips required to pass 08-B: 41 (not an easy goal)
Percentage of total voting process complete: about 45%

There were no huge surprises this weekend in either direction. There were some disappointments, which I'll flag below, but nothing shocking.

In order from most annoying to most positive, let's take a look.


Tropical Florida
2001-2 01-A: 55 yes, 116 no --> 32.2% YES
2009 08-B: 21 yes, 93 no --> 18.4% YES (-13.7%)

Winning the "most annoying" award for the weekend is Tropical Florida, which shifted nearly 14% anti-equality this year compared to previous voting. I wasn't expecting 08-B to pass Tropical Florida this year, but we should have been able to shift the "yes" percentage up a bit this year instead of losing 14%. This looks to me somewhat like a turnout issue on the pro-equality side, which lost over half of the votes received in 2001-2.

Lake Erie
2001-2 01-A: 37 yes, 65 no --> 36.3% YES
2009 08-B: 32 yes, 58 no --> 35.6% YES (-0.7%)

Lake Erie and The James (below) tie for the category of "annoying because I wanted to see 40% support". Here in Lake Erie we see just under a 1% anti-equality shift, which is basically within statistical noise. We should be able to do better than "no movement" here.

The James
2001-2 01-A: 130 yes, 190 no --> 40.6% YES
2009 08-B: 125 yes, 192 no --> 39.4% YES (-1.2%)

As with Lake Erie, here we see about a 1% anti-equality shift, and this from a presbytery that came in above 40% support 7 years ago. It should be possible to move this presbytery pro-equality, so maybe we should all send them some love, or a PFLAG chapter or something.

2001-2 01-A: 46 yes, 62 no --> 42.6% YES
2009 08-B: 37 yes, 40 no --> 48.1% YES (+5.5%)

Here we have the "close but no banana" situation for the weekend. Although we have a decent 5.5% pro-equality shift, we fell just 4 votes short of winning here. This was the one serious target "FLIP" presbytery that didn't flip. However, it's that much closer to a pro-equality vote if there needs to be a next time.


North Alabama
2001-2 01-A: Voice vote no --> no percentage available
2009 08-B: 30 yes, 47 no --> 38.5% YES

We don't know what the vote might have looked like in 2001-2 had it been counted, but I'll take a starting point of almost 39% pro-equality support in Alabama any day. Given this starting level of support, we should be able to shift North Alabama more pro-equality over time.

2001-2 01-A: 69 yes, 109 no --> 38.8% YES
2009 08-B: 65 yes, 75 no --> 46.4% YES (+7.7%)

This is nearly an 8% pro-equality shift, which is good, though we're not quite there. Sacramento now moves from "long shot" into the "target flip" range.


Greater Atlanta
2001-2 01-A: 235 yes, 283 no --> 45.4% YES
2009 08-B: 243 yes, 233 no --> 51.1% YES (+5.7%)

For me this was a nailbiter, but the More Light supporters here came through great, shifting the vote by nearly 6% to get a 10-vote victory. Greater Atlanta flips from "no" to "yes". The next step is to continue work in this presbytery to strengthen the current level of pro-equality support.

New Hope
2001-2 01-A: 153 yes, 159 no --> 49% YES
2009 08-B: 177 yes, 139 no --> 56% YES (+7%)

New Hope was a "should be easy FLIP" presbytery given its previous vote breakdown, and that turned out to be correct, with a 7% pro-equality shift.

Ohio Valley
2001-2 01-A: 74 yes, 90 no --> 45.1% YES
2009 08-B: 57 yes, 44 no --> 56.4% YES (+11.3%)

Another successful no-to-yes flip. There was some initial mis-reporting of the vote count, but I'm told that I have it correct now. The pro-equality shift, now at over 11%, is larger than originally reported.

Santa Fe
2001-2 01-A: 108 yes, 42 no --> 72% YES
2009 08-B: 110 yes, 23 no --> 83% YES (+11%)

I love these safe-yes presbyteries that demonstrate that even when you're at 72% support, you can still shift another 11% pro-equality and break above 80%. That's not always easy. To 90% and beyond!


2001-2 01-A: 92 yes, 96 no --> 48.9% YES
2009 08-B: 116 yes, 64 no --> 64.4% YES (+15.5%)

Arkansas was another successful no-to-yes flip, plus it shifted nearly 16% pro-equality, which is great. Arkansas here shifts categories from "target FLIP" to "likely safe pro-equality".

Eastern Oregon
2001-2 01-A: 17 yes, 14 no --> 54.8% YES
2009 08-B: 22 yes, 6 no --> 78.6% YES (+23.7%)

This was one of 5 "HOLD" presbyteries that we successfully held as pro-equality. The total vote count here is low so the percentages are much more susceptible to statistical noise, however a nearly 24% pro-equality shift in 7 years is very rare, and great news.

2001-2 01-A: 115 yes, 106 no --> 52% YES
2009 08-B: 125 yes, 53 no --> 70% YES (+18%)

This was another nailbiter "will we hold it?" presbytery which delivered with an amazing 18% pro-equality shift. The presbytery shifts categories from "nailbiter HOLD" to "likely safe pro-equality".

2001-2 01-A: 113 yes, 63 no --> 64.2% YES
2009 08-B: 90 yes, 19 no --> 82.6% YES (+18.4%)

With another 18% shift, Mid-Kentucky apparently wants to compete with Santa Fe for "largest percentage of pro-equality support". Not too many presbyteries are at the 80%+ support level yet, but thanks to Mid-Kentucky we now have one more. Nicely done.

John Knox
2001-2 01-A: 66 yes, 62 no --> 51.6% YES
2009 08-B: 39 yes, 13 no --> 75% YES (+23.4%)

Yet another nailbiter HOLD presbytery delivers with an incredible 23% pro-equality shift. The significant vote count decline from 2001-2 to 2009 is apparently because this year's presbytery meeting was in the middle of a snowstorm. Traditionally the cultural rule has been that "the anti-gay vote will turn out no matter what the weather", however in this case the snowstorm appears to have impacted the anti-equality vote more than the pro-equality vote. Thanks to all the More Light movement supporters who came out in the snow to vote YES on 08-B this year in John Knox.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today's voting: summary with updates

(Feb. 22 last update: all Saturday 2/21 votes are now known.)

The actual votes are on the tracking spreadsheet as usual, so here I'll just summarize predictions from yesterday, versus the actual vote outcome.

Final results for Saturday Feb. 21 voting:
Yes votes: 9
No votes: 6
No-to-yes flips: 4 out of a target 5
Nasty surprises: 0
Amazingly positive surprises: 0

Category: FLIP
Result: Successful, flipped to "yes" vote.

Eastern Oregon
Category: HOLD
Result: Successful, held at "yes" vote

Category: HOLD
Result: Successful, held at "yes" vote

Greater Atlanta
Category: FLIP
Result: Successful, flipped to "yes" vote

Category: FLIP
Result: Unsuccessful, fell 3 votes short

John Knox
Category: HOLD
Result: Successful, held at "yes" vote

Lake Erie
Category: LONG SHOT
Result: unsuccessful, didn't flip (that's why it was "long shot")

Category: HOLD
Result: Successful, held at "yes" vote

New Hope
Category: FLIP
Result: Successful, flipped to "yes" vote

North Alabama
Category: SAM (history of strong anti-equality votes)
Result: Miracle unsuccessful, but comes in at a solid 39% YES support.

Ohio Valley
Category: FLIP
Result: Successful, flipped to "yes" vote

Category: LONG SHOT
Result: unsuccessful, didn't flip, but shifted 8% pro-equality

Santa Fe (not listed in Feb. 20 pre-weekend listing - I didn't know they were going to vote)
Category: HOLD
Result: Successful, held at "yes" vote

The James
Category: LONG SHOT
Result: Unsuccessful, didn't flip (but again, it was a long shot...)

Tropical Florida
Category: SAM (history of strong anti-equality votes)
Result: Miracle unsuccessful, and strong anti-equality shift (there's one in every crowd...)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pre-weekend expectations-setting

(Updated from a previous email-posted version).

I took a look at the 14 presbyteries which I'm led to believe will vote tomorrow (Saturday Feb. 21) on 08-B, and have categorized them based on their previous vote in 2001-2. Here's what the categories mean:

HOLD: previously voted pro-equality, want to maintain a pro-equality vote in 2009.

FLIP: Previously voted "no" by about 42%-49%, presbytery might flip pro-equality this year.

LONG SHOT: Previously voted "no" by a significant margin, small chance of shifting to pro-equality vote this year. (However, some of these have previously been our big positive surprises.)

SAM: "Seeking A Miracle" - not expected (by me, but what do I know) to shift to a pro-equality vote this year.

These are just my opinions based on prior history, and several votes in the past few weeks have already shown that my predictions are sometimes too conservative, so get out your salt shaker before you use this list.

As always, all pro-LGBT percentage shifts are good news, even if the presbytery votes "no". So doing get-out-the-vote everywhere is important.

FLIP Arkansas
HOLD Eastern Oregon
HOLD Giddings-Lovejoy, St. Louis, MO
FLIP Greater Atlanta
FLIP Homestead, Lincoln, NE
HOLD John Knox, Richland Center, WI
LONG SHOT Lake Erie, Erie, PA
HOLD Mid-Kentucky, Louisville, KY
FLIP New Hope, Chapel Hill, NC
SAM North Alabama, Huntsville, AL
FLIP Ohio Valley, Bloomington, IN
LONG SHOT Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
LONG SHOT The James, Richmond, VA
SAM Tropical Florida

Total expected Saturday votes: 14.
Minimum number of "yes" votes to hold with 2001-2 vote counts: 4 votes.
My target number of "yes" votes (optimistic scenario): 8 votes.

So 8 yes votes this weekend should be considered excellent. Anything above that is amazing, and anything approaching 12 "yes" votes would be considered a pro-equality blowout (and is also extremely unlikely).

There are several presbyteries on this list in the low-50% range from 2001-2, so don't be surprised if we see our first "negative flip" this weekend -- we could see a presbytery shift a few percentage points anti-LGBT and that would be enough to shift it to a "no". Hopefully that won't happen, but you never know.

Stunning upset vote: Tres Rios presbytery shifts pro-equality

With a record-setting 28% pro-equality shift compared to its previous 2001-2002 vote, it appears that Tres Rios has flipped pro-equality.  At this point all I can say is that all bets and guesses about the end of the 08-B voting process are off, because simply on the basis of the 2001-2 vote count, you would never have convinced me in advance that the pro-equality vote would win the day here.

Tres Rios Presbytery serves western Texas. A map is here:

Tres Rios vote stats:
2001-2 01-A: 17 yes, 54 no --> 24% YES
2009 08-B: 37 yes, 34 no --> 52% YES

This is really a stunner, and in a good way. Whatever you folks are doing in Alabama and now in Texas, keep on doing it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Two more vote updates and great news

It appears that Sheppards & Lapsley presbytery, in central Alabama, has flipped from a previously strong anti-equality vote to a YES on 08-B vote this year. We also have a vote count from Western Colorado with a strong positive trend.

Sheppards & Lapsley
2001-2 01-A: 59 yes, 109 no --> 35.1% YES
2009 08-B: 77 yes, 75 no --> 50.7% YES

Coming out of nowhere (i.e. not on my radar) with nearly a 16% pro-equality shift to flip to pro-equality by 2 votes, Sheppards & Lapsley suggests that this is going to be a very interesting few months of voting. I'd be happy to discover that my more conservative speculations about which presbyteries are likely to flip pro-equality could be completely wrong (in a good way).

My presbytery map suggests that Sheppards & Lapsley includes both the cities of Birmingham and Montgomery, both of course well known historically for events that took place there during the civil rights movement.

If there are More Light supporters in this presbytery who'd be interested in having a phone conversation, I'd love to do a phone interview with you to understand how you did it. (You can email me at hahne at io dot com). There could be ramifications for the larger LGBT equality movement. If we can understand what wins hearts, minds, and votes in central Alabama by 16% in 7 years, it could help to guide strategy within equality organizations well beyond the PCUSA LGBT equality movement.

Western Colorado
2001-2 01-A: 6 yes, 33 no --> 15% YES
2009 08-B: 11 yes, 23 no --> 32% YES

This is an excellent (17%) pro-equality shift from Western Colorado, and it breaks in a positive way with the general trend that "presbyteries under 30% previous equality support are shifting anti-LGBT in their votes". In some sense we could say this vote "cancels out" the disappointment from Glacier Presbytery a few days ago, which had a 14% anti-equality shift.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Four presbytery votes, three flip pro-equality today

The votes keep coming in and the news today is good.  Two of the presbyteries to vote today were presbyteries very close to 50% "yes" in 2001-2, so we'd expect them to flip pro-equality this year.

Great Rivers:
2001-2 01-A: 99 yes, 108 yes --> 47.8% YES
2009 08-B: 85 yes, 74 no --> 53.5% YES

This was a swing presbytery which we'd hope would shift to a pro-equality vote this year, and it did, with close to a 6% pro-equality shift.

Glacier Presbytery:
2001-2 01-A: 11 yes, 21 no --> 34.4% YES
2009 08-B: 7 yes, 28 no --> 20.0% YES

This 14% anti-equality vote shift is disappointing, and breaks the general trend that says if you were previously over 30% pro-equality support, then the presbytery is typically shifting pro-equality in its votes. However the total number of people voting is so small that the percentage is very susceptible to smaller fluctuations in total vote counts.

Maumee Valley:
2001-2 01-A: 51 yes, 70 no --> 42% YES
2009 08-B: 65 yes, 58 no --> 53% YES

With an 11% pro-equality shift and coming from a low-40% equality support to break over 50% this year, Maumee Valley so far is the big equality winner for the day.

Scioto Valley:
2001-2 01-A: 103 yes, 105 no --> 49.5% YES
2009 08-B: 115 yes, 88 no --> 56.7% YES

Obviously that 2001-2 vote is about as close as you can get short of an exact tie. It's great to see a solid 7% pro-equality shift from Scioto Valley.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Five more presbytery vote updates

Several additional presbytery vote counts are now available. There are a few annoyances, but no surprises. Here's what I have, with the usual commentary that you can choose to ignore as desired.

Inland Northwest:
2001-2 01-A: 22 yes, 112 no --> 16.4% YES
2009 08-B: 44 yes, 76 no --> 36.7% YES

The great thing about these strong "Seeking A Miracle" anti-equality presbyteries is that they have a lot of possible positive movement. :-) Inland Northwest is one of the big success stories of this batch of presbyteries, coming in at over a 20% pro-equality shift. Note how equality supporters were able to double the number of people voting yes, while the "no" side lost over 30 votes compared to 2001-2.

This is a huge pro-LGBT shift and now puts Inland Northwest into the above-30% category. If you're in this presbytery, now looks like a great time to start a More Light Presbyterians chapter, if there isn't one there already. (To be fair: actually ANY time anywhere is the right time to start an MLP chapter, it's just that in Inland Northwest you've clearly got some pro-equality momentum going -- time to find each other and keep it going.)

Memphis aka Mid-South:
2001-2 01-A: 59 yes, 99 no --> 37.3% YES
2009 08-B: 31 yes, 67 no --> 31.6% YES

This vote shift is a disappointment, since it's one of the first cases where a presbytery with greater than 30% pro-equality support shifted ANTI-equality in 2009. It's nearly a 6% negative shift. The
pro-equality vote count dropped from about 60 people to about 30 people, which frankly doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I find it difficult to believe that the number of equality suppoters in this presbytery has been cut in half (59 yes down to 31 yes) in the past 7 years, so maybe this vote is just a big statistical outlier. If anybody has an interesting (factually accurate) back story about what was going on this year with the voting in this presbytery, feel free to send it to me and I can sanitize/summarize it to share.

Miami Valley (Ohio):
2001-2 01-A: 86 yes, 53 no --> 62% YES
2009 08-B: 72 yes, 48 no --> 60% YES

Miami Valley holds as a pro-equality presbytery, however I'm not just satisfied with a yes-on-08B vote, I want to see pro-LGBT vote percentage shifts over time. Although it's probably just statistical noise, here we see a -2% ANTI-equality shift in the voting trends. This isn't particularly cause to make anybody lose sleep at night, but we should be able to do better than this. Presbyteries like Chicago have demonstrated that it's possible to move from 60% "yes" to 75% "yes" in just 7 years, so I had somewhat hoped to see at least an 8% pro-equality shift from Miami Valley this year.

Saint Augustine:
2001-2 01-A: 66 yes, 105 no --> 39% YES
2009 08-B: 68 yes, 75 no --> 48% YES

With a strong 9% pro-LGBT shift, St. Augustine fits with the general pro-equality voting trend that we're seeing. This presbytery now moves from "very difficult to win" into "swing presbytery, could flip pro-equality" for future votes. Saint Augustine is a success story this year.

2001-2 01-A: 77 yes, 146 no --> 34.5% YES
2009 08-B: 82 yes, 112 no --> 42.3% YES

This is nearly an 8% pro-equality shift, and moves another low-30% presbytery into the low-40% pro-equality support category. Another success story. As with St. Augustine Presbytery above, note how the total number of support votes increased at the same time as the total number of "no" votes decreased significantly.

So if you want my summary scorecard for this group of 5 presbyteries, it would look like this:

Inland Northwest: fantastic (20% shift)
Memphis/Mis-South: disappointing, need to do better than this
Miami: disappointing, we can do better
St. Augustine: very good (9% shift)
Shenandoah: very good (8% shift)

No presbytery-level vote flips for this group of five (and I also didn't expect any).


My request / suggestion: This is just me asking this, not MLP, however if you're in a presbytery that hasn't voted yet, please find a few other equality supporters in your presbytery and do some get-out-the-vote work for pro-equality voting, no matter what type of presbytery you're in. The total nationwide "yes" vote count (aka "popular vote") matters, and you can increase that vote count wherever you are. In fact as we've seen, some of the best pro-equality shifts can happen within some of the most anti-equality presbyteries. And we've seen shifts of well above 10% come in for all types of presbyteries, so it can happen anywhere if you work at it.

The MLP 08-B resource kit doesn't appear to contain a specific get-out-the-vote (GOTV) tactics advice document, however if you're uncertain about how to do GOTV, don't worry, we can get you hooked up with the right people for some help. I bet that the team at MLP can assist with advice, or you can always email me and I can help get you in touch with some assistance. Nobody should sit around doing nothing simply because you're not sure what to do.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Charlotte presbytery flips pro-LGBT

In yet another vote shift that I certainly didn't expect, Charlotte presbytery, which took a voice vote "no" on 01-A in 2001-2, has now voted YES on 08-B. Many thanks to the equality supporters in Charlotte presbytery for the nice Valentine's Day present.

This is the third presbytery to vote that had previously taken a voice vote "no" in 2001-2. The first was East Tennessee, which also flipped pro-LGBT this year. The second was Wyoming presbytery, which voted no on 08-B this year. So we're two for three in shifting previous voice-voice presbyteries to a pro-equality position. That's a really good track record -- I was originally guessing that all previous "voice vote no" presbyteries would also vote no on 08-B this year.

The lesson here seems to be "count the vote, don't just do a voice vote". You never know how the vote might turn out, and even if you lose, taking an actual vote count allows equality supporters to realize that you're not alone in wanting pro-equality change.

Here are the stats that I know of for today's votes:

Charlotte presbytery:
2001-2 01-A: voice vote "no", no percentage available
2009 08-B: 133 yes, 124 no --> 52% YES

Pines presbytery:
2001-2 01-A: 31 yes, 45 no --> 41% YES
2009 08-B: 34 yes, 36 no --> 49% YES

So we have another "close, but not quite" situation in Pines, similar to Cincinnati earlier this week, however it's still a solid 8% pro-equality shift.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pueblo and Southeastern Illinois presbyteries

Another presbytery has shifted in favor of equality -- in this case it's a presbytery that we'd hope would shift pro-LGBT this year.

Southeastern Illinois:
2001-2 01-A: 69 yes, 77 no --> 47.3% YES
2009 08-B: 68 yes, 56 no --> 54.8% YES

So it's close to an 8% pro-LGBT shift, and this presbytery votes YES on equality this year. Very nice.

Also, in the past day or two Pueblo Presbytery voted. Although this was another "very unlikely to shift to yes" presbytery, the percentage pro-equality shift is excellent:

2001-2 01-A: 23 yes, 77 no --> 23% YES
2009 08-B: 27 yes, 54 no --> 33% YES

This is one of just a few presbyteries, under 30% previous pro-equality support, to shift in a pro-equality direction -- in this case by a significant percentage.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Four more recent presbytery votes: one flip, one "almost"

Votes continue to come in as more presbyteries vote.  Here are the latest numbers.

2001-2 01-A: 48 yes, 90 no --> 35% YES
2009 08-B: 57 yes, 73 no --> 44% YES

A strong 9% pro-equality shift from Blackhawk, again confirming the trend that presbyteries with over 30% previous pro-equality support are mostly shifting pro-LGBT. Blackhawk now moves into "candidate swing presbytery" territory with that 44% pro-equality support level.

2001-2 01-A: 247 yes, 170 no --> 59% YES
2009 08-B: 204 yes, 69 no --> 75% YES

This is a strong 16% pro-LGBT shift here from Chicago. The dropoff in total votes seems rather large -- that's 144 fewer votes in 2009 than in 2002. I'm not sure if that tells us anything or not.

2001-2 01-A: 16 yes, 20 no --> 44.4% YES
2009 08-B: 19 yes, 16 no --> 54.3% YES

Cimarron flips from anti-equality to pro-equality! This was definitely one of those "every vote counts" situations, as was the next in our list...

2001-2 01-A: 95 yes, 113 no --> 45.7% YES
2009 08-B: 83 yes, 83 no --> 50.0% YES (but not sufficient to pass)

This is something of a disappointment and presumably was frustrating for LGBT supporters in Cincinnati, to have the vote come out exactly split like this. An exact tie unfortunately isn't sufficient to pass an overture, so this gets recorded as a "no" vote on 08-B from Cincinnati presbytery. We ideally should have been able to flip this presbytery pro-equality this year, since it was already in the mid-40's, but we missed it by 1 vote. Somewhere out there, some More Light supporter in Cincinnati is probably losing sleep over why they decided to skip the presbytery meeting this week. The lesson to take here is probably "don't be the person who skips the presbytery meeting - it could end up as a tie!"

However it's still a 4% pro-equality shift, so we'll get there eventually.

How many presbyteries? The importance of voting trends

On a mailing list, somebody asked:

> how many non-supportive presbyteries need to flip to PRO for Amendment 08B to pass?

My math says that 46 presbyteries voted "yes" on 01-A in 2001-2, so it would take an additional 41 presbyteries shifting votes from "no" or "no action" to "yes" to get the necessary 87 votes to pass 08-B.

That's a very difficult voting cliff to scale in just 7 years, which is one reason why I feel it's important to track not just the resulting presbytery vote totals, but the percentage shifts within each presbytery.

The "no" votes start from a very strong base -- there are simply a lot of presbyteries that voted under 35% for equality in 2001-2, and it's very difficult to move from 35% equality support to 51% support in 7 years. The good news is that we're seeing a lot of the low-30's presbyteries become high-30's or even low-40's in terms of pro-equality support, which makes them easier to get to 51% if there needs to be a "next time".

My hope is that we'll at least make it to >50% of all individual presbytery voters voting "yes", even if 08-B doesn't make it. That would be the equivalent of "winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college vote" and would be a huge symbolic victory for equality (don't discount the value of symbolism). So it's important for everybody to work on "yes" voter turnout and persuasion no matter where you are.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Two more vote updates from the past weekend

We have two more presbytery vote updates from the past weekend.  Both are "no" votes, however both of these were expected, and again the trends look good.

Flint River:
2001-2 01-A: 20 yes, 71 no --> 22% YES
2009 08-B: 27 yes, 47 no --> 36.5% YES

This is one of the first presbyteries to break with the trend of "under-30% presbyteries are shifting anti-gay". Here we have nearly a 15% PRO-equality shift in a traditionally very anti-LGBT presbytery.

Flint River's vote shows that it IS possible to move the vote pro-equality even in the difficult presbyteries. Even better is that the shift doesn't result entirely from fewer people voting "no" -- there was also a significant increase in the "yes" vote count even though the total number of people voting at presbytery declined from 2001-2.

So I wouldn't place any bets on a "yes to delete B" vote from Flint River any time soon, but this year's vote is a very positive trend.

2001-2 01-A: voice vote "no" --> no percentage available
2009 08-B: 18 yes, 38 no --> 32% YES

Here we have our second "voice 'no' vote in 2001-2" presbytery to take its vote. Unlike East Tennessee, Wyoming didn't flip pro-LGBT. However, even the fact that the presbytery shifted from taking a voice vote to taking a counted vote suggests to me that there's a pro-LGBT trend. If a vote is going to be really painfully lopsided, you can take it via voice, but Wyoming didn't do that this year.

Wyoming has now come in at over 30% pro-LGBT in the vote, so if my rule of thumb holds that says ">30% pro-equality means it will trend more pro-equality", then over time Wyoming should improve gradually in its pro-LGBT voting patterns.

So again even though both of these are "no" votes, the trends favor equality for both of these presbyteries.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend voting wrapup - a good weekend for equality

I've now updated the tracking and percent-shift spreadsheet with the known results of this weekend's votes.

Scorecard for the weekend:
- 7 presbyteries voted
- 0 of these fell into my definition of "swing presbyteries" that I speculated could change their vote this year.
- 6 trended pro-LGBT compared to 2001-2.
- 1 flipped from voting anti-equality to voting pro-equality.
- Total: 3 "yes" votes, 4 "no" votes on 08-B. I would have predicted 2 "yes", 5 "no" if you had asked me in advance.

So this was a good weekend for equality.

As Michael Adee recently mentioned on the Morelightpresbyterians Yahoogroups list, we had another presbytery flip to pro-equality this weekend: East Tennessee. What's interesting about this presbytery is that in 2001-2 it took a voice vote on delete-b overture 01-A. I had been assuming that the "voice vote NO" presbyteries were probably so anti-LGBT that they would never flip pro-equality this year. East Tennessee now tells us that I was wrong, which is good.

There are 11 other presbyteries that took voice "no" votes on 01-A in 2001-2 (see the spreadsheet and look for "VOICE"), so it will be interesting to see if any of these might flip pro-LGBT this year.

Here's a summary of the percentage shifts from this weekend's votes, plus some comments:

East Tennessee
2001-2 01-A: voice vote no --> no percentage available
2009 08-B: 81 yes, 66 no --> 55.1% YES

Great job in East Tennessee to everybody working on More Light concerns there. This presbytery's voting history has been consistently anti-LGBT in the past, so to bring in the vote at a solid 55% pro-equality is a very strong positive shift.

New Covenant
2001-2 01-A: 120 yes, 214 no --> 36% YES
2009 08-B: 119 yes, 171 no --> 41% YES (5% pro-LGBT shift)

This isn't as spectacular a pro-LGBT shift as some of the mid-30%-support presbyteries have shown, however 5% is pretty solid. Every presbytery that shifts into the 40's with a "yes" vote becomes a more likely target swing presbytery in case we need to go through this delete-B exercise again in a few years.

The Peaks
2001-2 01-A: 77 yes, 166 no --> 32% YES
2009 08-B: 74 yes, 136 no --> 35% YES (3% pro-LGBT shift)

This 3% shift stays consistent with my working theory that presbyteries with previous votes slightly over 30% pro-equality are slowly shifting in the pro-equality direction.

Plains and Peaks
2001-2 01-A: 60 yes, 91 no --> 39.7% YES
2009 08-B: 41 yes, 60 no --> 40.6% YES (1% pro-LGBT shift)

Nothing spectacular, but I'll gladly take a 1% pro-LGBT shift even though it's pretty much statistical noise. The reduction in total voters is interesting here -- 151 people in 2001-2 vs. 101 people in 2009. Many presbyteries show similar trends in the total number of voters.

Prospect Hill
2001-2 01-A: 24 yes, 62 no --> 28% YES
2009 08-B: 12 yes, 63 no --> 16% YES (12% anti-LGBT shift, ouch)

This 12% shift in the anti-LGBT direction is consistent with my working theory that many presbyteries under 30% previous support are trending anti-equality in their votes. This is the largest anti-LGBT percentage shift we've seen so far. Checking my presbytery map, I see that Prospect Hill is in northwest Iowa plus a tiny bit of Nebraska, which doesn't particularly strike me as an area that I'd "expect" to trend anti-gay, however I don't live there so I don't know.

2001-2 01-A: 102 yes, 49 no --> 67.5% YES
2009 08-B: 102 yes, 28 no --> 78.5% YES (11% pro-LGBT shift)

Nice job to everybody in Redwoods for demonstrating that a presbytery already with a 2/3 pro-LGBT voting record can give us an additional 11% pro-LGBT shift.

2001-2 01-A: 50 yes, 20 no --> 71.4% YES
2009 08-B: 55 yes, 20 no --> 73.3% YES (2% pro-LGBT shift)

And to round them out, a >70% pro-LGBT presbytery shows that you're not done with the work of trending pro-equality until it's 100% YES. :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Excellent pro-LGBT shift from St. Andrew presbytery

It appears that St. Andrew Presbytery voted on 08-B very recently, and although 08-B didn't pass there, the pro-LGBT shift is very high:

2001-2 01-A: 11 yes, 86 no --> 11.3% YES
2009 08-B: 30 yes, 50 no --> 37.5% YES

This is a 26% pro-LGBT shift in just 7 years, the largest shift we've seen in any presbytery so far. They nearly tripled the number of people voting for equality. And it's one of a few presbyteries with previous LGBT support under 30% which has shifted in a pro-LGBT direction. Many of the under-30% presbyteries have been shifting anti-LGBT when we compare 2001-2 to 2009.

So in terms of "largest pro-LGBT shift in a presbytery vote", Saint Andrew is presently in the lead. Nice job.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lake Huron Presbytery flips pro-LGBT

For the second time in just a few days, a presbytery which previously voted anti-LGBT in 2001-2 has flipped its vote and has now voted pro-equality.

Lake Huron stats:
2001-2 01-A: 42 yes, 64 no --> 39.6% YES
2009 08-B: 43 yes, 32 no --> 57.3% YES

This is an 18% pro-LGBT shift in just 7 years, which is fantastic. And it's also in another "under 40%" presbytery that I wouldn't have expected to flip very easily this year.

If you're working in a presbytery and you aren't sure what to do to advocate for yes-on-08-B, maybe get on the phone to a pro-LGBT supporter at these presbyteries (Western North Carolina and now Lake Huron, both of which flipped) and ask them for tips. But first download and read MLP's "yes" resource kit from, of course.