Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekly 08-B vote wrapup (March 1-7)

OK, here we go with another weekly 08-B vote wrapup. The presbytery individual voting breakdowns and percentage shifts are later below.


Yes votes: 3 (was 1 in 2001-2)
No votes: 9 (was 11 in 2001-2)
Ties: 2 (ties count as "no" and are included in the 9 above.)
No-to-yes flips: 1 out of a target 3
Previous "yes" presbyteries held at "yes": 1 out of 1

Presbyteries shifting pro-equality: 10
Presbyteries shifting anti-equality: 1

Nasty surprises: 0
Amazingly positive surprises (unexpected flips): 1
Annoyances: 2 (North Central Iowa, Mission)
Bruce's ranking of the week: "Mostly as predicted, with increasing tie votes"

This week's votes on 08-B came in mostly as an educated guess would predict, however there were a few interesting wrinkles along the way. The presbytery vote lineup for the past week consisted of 6 expected solid "no" votes, 2 more likely "no" votes, 3 candidates for no-to-yes vote flips, and 1 expected "yes" vote. As it turned out, 2 of the 3 candidate no-to-yes presbyteries (Mission and North Central Iowa Presbyteries) did NOT flip, but we picked up an unexpected no-to-yes flip from Whitewater Valley.

My definition of an ideal week would have been 4 yes votes, however that was definitely a stretch goal, since it required flipping two presbyteries with previous 41% pro-equality voting records (North Central Iowa and Mission). A complete blowout miracle week would have been 6 yes votes, which would have required two long-shot presbyteries to also flip pro-equality. Overall, 3 presbytery "yes" votes for the week isn't too bad, and it's 2 more than 2001-2, so as always the overall trend is in favor of equality.

This past week we've also seen The Return Of The Tie Vote, now with twice as many tie votes as before. Previously we had a tie vote from Cincinnati presbytery, and this week we saw both Central Nebraska and Mission presbyteries reach that "just one vote short" threshold of a tie, which unfortunately counts as a "no" for the presbytery. However I'm happy to claim at least 1.5 moral victory "yes" votes from the 3 ties that have happened so far. As with Cincinnati, the lesson here really is that every last vote can matter -- so if you're a voter who is thinking about skipping your presbytery meeting on the voting day for 08-B, please don't.

One important trend this week is that presbyteries shifting pro-equality in their vote percentages totally overwhelmed presbyteries shifting anti-equality. Only North Central Iowa shifted anti-LGBT in its vote this week, and the overall ratio of pro-LGBT-vote-shift to anti-LGBT-vote-shift presbyteries is now well above 3 to 1. To me, these voting percentage shifts are more important to track than the total presbytery vote count, since the shifts tell us where the PCUSA is headed ideologically. It's extremely clear at this point that we have a very strong pro-equality voting trend within the denomination. Regardless of how the final presbytery vote tally comes out on 08-B, it's now obvious that G6.0106b is going to be out of the denomination's constitution within the next few years.

So with that overview out of the way, let's go to the vote-by-vote breakdowns and comments.


North Central Iowa
2001-2 01-A: 46 yes, 65 no --> 41.4% YES
2009 08-B: 31 yes, 60 no --> 34.1% YES (-7.4%)

North Central Iowa ends up on my "most annoying" list this week since it was a target presbytery to flip from no to yes, however instead we ended up with about a 7% ANTI-equality shift. This sort of anti-LGBT trend is highly unusual for a presbytery in the 40% pro-equality support range, so possibly this may have simply been a get-out-the-vote issue for yes-on-08B supporters.

2001-2 01-A: 164 yes, 235 no --> 41.1% YES
2009 08-B: 181 yes, 181 no --> 50.0% YES (+8.9%)

Mission was another target "no-to-yes flip" presbytery, and isn't as annoying as North Central Iowa since it did shift significantly pro-equality. However a tie vote is almost always annoying, so I'll list it here. You could also make a credible argument that Mission should go into the "slightly positive" list below.


Eastern Korean
2001-2 01-A: 0 yes, 48 no --> 0% YES
2009 08-B: 0 yes, 55 no --> 0% YES

I'm not sure what to say about Eastern Korean other than that with those voting patterns, they're certainly consistent. You do have to figure that since God has created roughly 3% of the population as gay, many of the voters in this presbytery are voting against equality for their own children, quite possibly without even knowing it. It's kind of sad to think about it that way. It will be a day to celebrate when we see the first non-unanimous vote from this presbytery.


It may seem strange that here I have a long string of "no" presbytery votes all listed in the "slightly positive" category, however they're all pro-equality voting shifts, some of them fairly significant. Central Nebraska even came up out of the high-30% pro-equality support level and almost became a surprise no-to-yes flip, however the vote ended up as a tie.

I have these listed in order of increasing percentage vote shift.

2001-2 01-A: 22 yes, 74 no --> 22.9% YES
2009 08-B: 24 yes, 68 no --> 26.1% YES (+3.2%)

2001-2 01-A: 42 yes, 114 no --> 26.9% YES
2009 08-B: 48 yes, 106 no --> 31.2% YES (+4.2%)

Coastal Carolina
2001-2 01-A: 95 yes, 286 no --> 25% YES
2009 08-B: 110 yes, 205 no --> 35% YES (+10%)

Central Nebraska
2001-2 01-A: 24 yes, 39 no --> 38.1% YES
2009 08-B: 21 yes, 21 no --> 50.0% YES (+11.9%)

This vote shift from Central Nebraska obviously shifts it into the category of "strong target no-to-yes shift" if there needs to be a next time.

South Dakota
2001-2 01-A: 22 yes, 66 no --> 25% YES
2009 08-B: 32 yes, 48 no --> 40% YES (+15%)

Similar to the voting in Central Nebraska, this large pro-equality swing of 15% from South Dakota shifts it from what we'd call "Seeking A Miracle" status to "long-shot target to flip pro-equality" if there needs to be a next time.


2001-2 01-A: 150 yes, 139 no --> 51.9% YES
2009 08-B: 127 yes, 90 no --> 58.5% YES (+6.6%)

Heartland was a "hold" presbytery, which means that it had previously voted pro-equality and we wanted to keep it that way. That was successful, and with a solid 6.6% pro-LGBT shift.

John Calvin
2001-2 01-A: 16 yes, 76 no --> 17.4% YES
2009 08-B: 33 yes, 55 no --> 37.5% YES (+20.1%)

Here's another presbytery "no" vote, however look at that pro-equality shift of over 20%. Supporters doubled the number of "yes" voters, while the "no" side lost 21 votes. That's a very positive shift towards equality.

Whitewater Valley
2001-2 01-A: 95 yes, 150 no --> 38.8% YES
2009 08-B: 108 yes, 106 no --> 50.5% YES (+11.7%)

Whitewater Valley was a "very long shot to flip" presbytery, and in fact did flip this year from "no" to "yes". This was our "amazingly positive surprise" Presbytery for the week. Many thanks to everybody working in this presbytery for equality.

2001-2 01-A: 29 yes, 37 no --> 44% YES
2009 08-B: 25 yes, 23 no --> 52% YES (+8%)

Yellowstone was another target presbytery to flip from "no" to "yes", and here it was successful. As with Whitewater Valley, a change of a single "yes" vote to "no" would have made this into a tie this year, which would have counted as a "no". (Did I mention yet that every vote counts?)