Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekly 08-B wrapup, March 23-29

Here's an 08-B vote wrapup for the week ending March 29 that includes all of the presbytery votes that I know about, March 23-29.


Yes votes: 11
No votes: 2
No-to-yes flips: 2 out of a target 2
Previous "yes" presbyteries held at "yes": 8 out of 8
Previous "no action" presbyteries converted to "yes": 1

Presbyteries shifting pro-equality: 10
Presbyteries shifting anti-equality 2

Nasty surprises: 0
Amazingly positive surprises (unexpected flips): 0
Annoyances: 1 (Geneva)

Bruce's rating for the week: "Close to perfect"

All of those past weeks of anti-LGBT presbyteries voting early and pro-LGBT presbyteries voting late are finally starting to equalize themselves, since of course eventually every presbytery needs to vote. The result is that this week we saw a large number of "likely yes" presbyteries vote, with all presbyteries that voted for equality in 2001-2 again voting for equality in 2009. The "anti-08B vote skew", i.e. the deceptively high presbytery vote count margin against 08-B, has dropped from 15 down to 6. So there's still a skew, it's just not as high right now.

This week was about as close as you can get to perfect execution for the More Light / equality movement. The two presbyteries that had a shot at flipping "no" to "yes" did in fact flip, the 8 presbyteries that we needed to hold at "yes" did hold, there were no yes-to-no flips, and the wildcard of Western New York presbytery, which took "no action" in 2001-2, came in at a "yes" vote. About the only thing I can flag this week as an issue of concern was some backsliding in Geneva presbytery -- see the numbers below.

I should probably again go through my "hope versus realism" discussion, since in this past week I again saw a post on a public More Light list from somebody who appeared to believe that 08-B is likely to pass. Naturally anything is possible until somebody gets 87 votes, however as I did last week, let's take a look at the updated numbers:

-- Those who oppose 08-B need 6 more presbytery "no" votes to defeat it.

-- There are 7 presbyteries still to vote in what I call the "likely no" category, which means that they voted with less than 40% support for equality in 2001-2. Most of these are rock-solid high-guarantee "no" votes, barring the sudden Rapture of all the "no" voters up into the sky where they're unlikely to be able to make the presbytery meeting... however since we don't have the Rapture in reformed theology, I'm pretty much going to count that scenario out.

-- There are 2 additional previous "voice vote no" presbyteries which haven't voted yet and are similarly very likely to vote "no" this year: Noroeste and Soroeste.

So you can do the math and pretty much determine the likely yes-to-no outcome for 08-B at this point. However as I did last week, I'd really like to stress that what matters is the PROGRESS TOWARDS THE GOAL -- it's important to make as much progress as possible this year, which means that every presbytery matters regardless of whether "yes" or "no" happens to have amassed 87 presbytery votes at the time. The More Light movement remains on target to meet the suggested goals that I proposed a week ago: at least 30 presbyteries flipped no-to-yes; total "no" votes kept under 100; zero yes-to-no flips; a 3:1 ratio of pro-equality vote shifts compared to anti-equality vote shifts; and a human vote count as close to 50-50 as possible.

Next I'll rapidly go through the individual vote numbers, categorized in the usual way as annoying, neutral, slightly positive, and successes.


2001-2 01-A: 65 yes, 35 no --> 65.0% YES
2009 08-B: 44 yes, 29 no --> 60.3% YES (-4.7%)

Geneva gets my one "annoying" label of the week due to the nearly 5% anti-equality shift from this "safe YES" presbytery. That steep drop from 65 "yes" voters in 2001-2 to 44 "yes" voters in 2009 doesn't look good. My hope is that this was simply due to turnout or get-out-the-vote issues this year. We need to take this example as an important warning to not get complacent in any presbytery. Your presbytery might traditionally vote pro-equality, but if you don't show up to vote, you could end up with a very nasty surprise.


2001-2 01-A: Voice vote "no"
2009 08-B: 21 yes, 92 no --> 18.6% YES

Beaver-Butler joins the ranks of those previous voice-vote-no presbyteries which this year counted the vote, and puts an initial stake in the ground at nearly 20% pro-equality support. Special thanks to the 21 equality supporters in Beaver-Butler, and here's to increasing your numbers over time!

2001-2 01-A: 59 yes, 42 no --> 58.4% YES
2009 08-B: 54 yes, 42 no --> 56.3% YES (-2.2%)

Boston gets a "neutral" ranking from me due to the perhaps statistically insignificant downward slide in equality support. Again this isn't a trend that we want to see continue anywhere, where the "yes" votes lose 5 votes while the "no" vote count stays constant.


2001-2 01-A: 22 yes, 93 no --> 19% YES
2009 08-B: 30 yes, 89 no --> 25% YES (+6%)

Charleston-Atlantic, one of our "extremely likely no" presbyteries, as expected does come in with a "no" vote, but shifts 6% pro-equality, with supporters increasing their vote turnout by about 40% while the "no" voters lost votes compared to 2001-2.


I wasn't entirely sure where to put all the presbyteries that previously voted "yes" and held that vote as a "yes" on 08-B -- do we call those "slightly positive" or a complete "success"? However since so many of the percentage vote shifts are comparably high (7% or above pro-equality shift), I've listed them here. First, however, are our one "no action to YES" shift and our two no-to-yes flips.

Western New York
2001-2 01-A: "No action" --> implicit "no" vote
2009 08-B: 66 yes, 48 no --> 57.9% YES

Western New York to me was a wildcard -- I had no idea how it might vote this year due to the "no action" vote in 2001-2. It turns out that historically, this presbytery is fairly pro-equality, however it's great to see that come out in a solid "yes" vote at 58% pro-equality support this year.

2001-2 01-A: 176 yes, 221 no --> 44% YES
2009 08-B: 152 yes, 139 no --> 52% YES (+8%)

Philadelphia was a "target to flip" presbytery, and I was concerned about how it would play out since it can be difficult to shift from the low-40% range up to a "yes" vote, but More Light supporters there won the day, coming in a with a full 8% pro-LGBT shift and flipping this presbytery from "no" to "yes". Very nicely done.

2001-2 01-A: 109 yes, 154 no --> 41.4% YES
2009 08-B: 203 yes, 182 no --> 52.7% YES (+11.3%)

Grace Presbytery shows us how it's done, coming out of "long shot to flip" territory at a previous 41% level of pro-equality support to jump up by 11% and flip from "no" to "yes". Take a look at the total "yes" vote counts -- it went from 109 votes in 2001-2 to 203 votes this year. It takes a lot of groundwork to do that kind of vote doubling at vote counts of over 100. Very nice job in Grace presbytery this year.

The next 6 presbyteries were all "HOLD" presbyteries, meaning that they had previously voted "yes" on equality and the hope would be that they'd again vote "yes". With the exception of Elizabeth, all of them were also what I'd consider "safe YES" presbyteries, since their previous level of equality support was 60% or above. (However see my previous warnings about complacency.)

What's striking about all 6 of these presbyteries is the strong pro-equality shift, in most cases significantly above my rule of thumb of "1% per year". Here we see pro-LGBT vote shifts ranging from 7.6% in Western Reserve on up to a huge 18% pro-LGBT shift in Genesee Valley, although that appears to be primarily because the "no" vote completely collapsed. Many thanks to everybody in these presbyteries who worked to pass 08-B this year -- I'm sure that the national MLP board and staff feel good knowing that to a large extent, presbyteries considered to be "safe YES" usually do stay that way, so that MLP is able to put more resources into helping to move hearts, minds, and votes in swing and "seeking a miracle" presbyteries.

Western Reserve
2001-2 01-A: 131 yes, 73 no --> 64.2% YES
2009 08-B: 107 yes, 42 no --> 71.8% YES (+7.6%)

New York City
2001-2 01-A: 61 yes, 31 no --> 66% YES
2009 08-B: 76 yes, 25 no --> 75% YES (+9%)

2001-2 01-A: 80 yes, 68 no --> 54% YES
2009 08-B: 91 yes, 53 no --> 63% YES (+9%)

Susquehanna Valley
2001-2 01-A: 43 yes, 27 no --> 61.4% YES
2009 08-B: 59 yes, 23 no --> 72.0% YES (+10.6%)

2001-2 01-A: 115 yes, 69 no --> 62.5% YES
2009 08-B: 114 yes, 40 no --> 74% YES (+11.5%)

Genesee Valley
2001-2 01-A: 98 yes, 62 no --> 61.3% YES
2009 08-B: 93 yes, 24 no --> 79.5% YES (+18.2%)