Have you ever wondered how similar or different two states are? The State Similarity Rating attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. The index weights equally five major aspects of states: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The research combines 1,000 different data points. Each aspect was roughly balanced evenly between quantity/percentage and quality/type. See this post for a full explanation: State Similarity Rating
Similar to states in Great Lakes region and Iowa
Minnesota is like many other states that border the Great Lakes. The states have a similar climate and tend to have a lot of agriculture, but also historically many factories. Interestingly enough, the states most similar strongly correlate with the states that have historically had universities in the Big Ten (Rutgers and Maryland were only added recently to expand the conference’s TV network).
Top 5 States Most Similar to Minnesota
- Wisconsin is by far the most similar state to Minnesota. In fact, it is the most similar in demographics, culture, infrastructure, and geography. Their ethnic compositions are quite alike. Both states have a high percentage of people with German ancestry, but also Norwegian ancestry as well. They also have relatively many Hmong immigrants. Both states have lots of lakes, nearly the same percentage of farmland, and a similar climate. In addition, Minnesota and Wisconsin favor Democrats, although Wisconsin is more conservative.
- Illinois is to the south of Wisconsin. Since it has Chicago, its population is more diverse and urbanized. Illinois has far more single people and single parent households. Still, on the presidential level, both states almost always vote for Democrats. Neither state has stringent voter ID laws and both have many laws to protect civil rights. Their average incomes are nearly the same. In addition, the states also have similar circumcision rates.
- Iowa is just south of Minnesota. It is the only state in the top 5 that does not border the Great Lakes. However a majority of the territory in both states was annexed by the Louisiana Purchase. Both states have many married people and very few single parent households. They also enjoy some of the lowest homicide rates and highest home ownership rates in the country. However, Iowa is more conservative and has a much higher percentage of farmland.
- Michigan is another stronghold of the Democratic Party, like Minnesota and Illinois. Despite this neither Michigan nor Minnesota have laws that are especially favorable to immigrants, since they are not sanctuary states and do not allow undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Both have a similar percentage of farmland and grow nearly the same crops. Even their electricity comes from the same source. Both mostly use a mix of coal, nuclear, gas, but also wind power. They are also both relatively flat. One big difference is that Michigan has much more coastline.
- Pennsylvania may seem like a surprising addition to this list, since it is not considered to be a Midwestern state. Although both states border the Great Lakes, it is much more mountainous and has less farmland. However, there are many similarities as well. Their racial and religious composition is quite alike. They are neither especially religious or irreligious. The biggest difference is that Minnesota has more Lutherans. Both states have laws that protect unions and nearly the same percentage of union workers. On the presidential level, both states almost always vote for Democrats, although the composition of their state legislatures is much more balanced between Democrats and Republicans.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Minnesota
- Mississippi‘s demographics and culture differ strongly from Minnesota, despite the fact that Minnesota is the source of the Mississippi River. Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans in the United States, while Minnesota has less than the average. In addition, its White population also differs significantly, since most just identify their ancestry as American, while in Minnesota, Germanic ancestry is quite strong and almost no one identifies themselves as just American. While both states enjoy football, interest in ice hockey is also very strong in Minnesota. Still, these states have roughly the same population density, although Minnesota is more urbanized.
- South Carolina is another Southern state on this list. Unlike the others, it has a longer colonial history and was one of the original 13 states. Minnesota and South Carolina’s politics are especially different. Not only does South Carolina tend to support Republicans, even in primary elections, the states do not often vote for the same candidates. In 2016, Minnesota voted for Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders, while South Carolina voted for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It also has a high military enlistment rate, unlike Minnesota.
- Alabama is quite similar to Mississippi and South Carolina. It is another state with a high percentage of African Americans and many people who identify their ancestry as just American. It still has capital punishment and sentences many more inmates to life imprisonment than Minnesota. Alabama’s police force has received much more equipment from the military as well. The state is also much more religious.
- Hawaii is also quite different from Minnesota, despite the fact that both states tend to be liberal. Still, their geography is almost completely different. Minnesota is cold, quite flat, and has many lakes. In contrast, Hawaii has a tropical climate, many mountains, and very few lakes. Furthermore, Hawaii has a high percentage of Asians and a low percentage of White people. Their infrastructure is quite different as well. Minnesota has no military bases, while Hawaii has a military base for all 5 branches of the armed services. In addition, nearly 100% of Minnesota’s water is fluoridated, while Hawaii has the lowest percentage in the United States, at about 10%.
- Florida is another state that has tropical regions, like Hawaii. Still, both states are fairly flat. However, Florida is much more densely populated. It has a higher percentage of Latinos, many of whom immigrated from Cuba and Puerto Rico. Florida also has more conservative laws.
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