Famous Numbers Person Predicts Florida Could Have Gay Marriage by 2013

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential election, and because of that, he can find the answer to everything with a few clicks of his calculator. Except for the Oscars; he sure got those wrong. Sorry, Mickey.

Now Silver is trying to predict the years when each state could successfully fend off a voter initiative to ban gay marriage. Based on the number of voters who cite religion as a very important part of their lives, he's created a model:

The model predicts, for example, that a marriage ban in California in 2008 would have passed with 52.1 percent of the vote, almost exactly the fraction actually received by Proposition 8...

Marriage bans, however, are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than two points per year. So, for example, we'd project that a state in which a marriage ban passed with 60 percent of the vote last year would only have 58 percent of its voters approve the ban this year.

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Amendment 2 in Florida passed last year with a majority of 62 percent. We'll assume 62 percent is roughly equivalent to the starting value Silver used, and clipping away about 2 percent a year, that would mean Florida would have less than 50 percent support for a gay marriage ban by 2014, though Silver predicts 2013 for the Sunshine State. He doesn't reveal the hard number for each state, but it seems to fit the model more or less.

However, in Florida, constitutional amendments need 60 percent of the vote to pass. According to the numbers, which never lie, the amendment would not have passed if we had waited to 2010.

If we wanted to undo Amendment 2, one of the more obvious ways would be another constitutional amendment -- one that would need 60 percent support. Taking our rough understanding of Silver's model further, we'd have to wait at least 10 more years for the support to be there. So we're looking at 2019. Of course, Silver's model is for voters who would vote against a gay marriage ban, and that might not directly correlate to voters who would vote for gay marriage.

[via Buildings and Food]

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