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 Oregon, Washington, and Nevada
Few states are very similar to California. The top 2, Oregon and Washington, are the only other states in the US mainland to border the Pacific Ocean, however these states also have some significant differences with California as well. One thing that the top 5 states have all done is legalized marijuana. In addition, their people tend to have the same Western accent.
Top 5 States Most Similar to California
- Washington is another mountainous state on the Pacific Coast. The states both strongly favor the Democratic Party. Neither state has voted for a Republican president since 1988 or a Republican senator since 2000. They have the two highest minimum wages in the country. California and Washington also have favorable laws to immigrants since they are both sanctuary states and allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses. One big difference is that Washington has a far lower percentage of Latinos. However both states have a significant number of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino immigrants. Still, Washington is significantly colder than California and has far more rainfall.
- Oregon is very similar to Washington. It is another liberal state that strongly favors the Democratic Party. California and Oregon both gained statehood in the 1850s and were part of the Union during the Civil War. Oregon borders California to the north, so the states have similar geography. Both have large areas of temperate coniferous forests, but also have desert areas. They also have about the same percentage of agricultural land, although Oregon grows more wheat. However, like Washington, it has far fewer Latinos.
- Nevada borders California to the west. While California is famous for its beautiful beaches, Nevada is landlocked. Still, the states have many similarities. Both were originally part Mexico before they were ceded to the United States. Nevada also has many immigrants from Mexico. Both states have fewer high school graduates than average and a high percentage of unionized workers. However, Nevada’s laws are less favorable to unions. There are also several differences in their gambling and smoking laws, as California’s are more restrictive.
- Arizona is another landlocked state that borders California to its west. The states have roughly the same percentage of Latinos and most have their origins in Mexico. Still, Arizona has far fewer Asian Americans and its population is generally much older, since many people retire there. Arizona’s politics are also significantly more conservative than California, although the state has become increasingly more favorable to Democrats. Few people in either of these states have hunting licenses. In addition, they both have a much higher percentage of professional firefighters than average.
- Colorado is more east than the other states on this list. It is significantly colder, but has about the same amount of rainfall and is also very mountainous. Their people have a similar income per capita and a similar percentage of millionaires. In addition, both states favor Democrats and have laws that are friendly to immigrants. Still, Colorado has less restrictive gun laws and does not allow wine or spirits to purchased in the grocery store like California.
Top 5 States Least Similar to California
- Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans and very few Latinos. In addition, it is a very conservative state that rarely votes for Democrats. Furthermore, its geography is quite different from California since it gets a lot of rainfall and has few mountains. It is also one of the poorest states and has the fewest amount of cars per capita. Unlike California few people use public transportation as well.
- Alabama is another conservative state on this list. It is quite similar to Mississippi. Alabama is one of the most religious states and has a far higher percentage of Baptists and lower percentage of Catholics than California. Its climate gets much more rainfall, although it is nearly has hot.
- North Dakota is the second coldest state, after Alaska. It is landlocked, quite flat, and mostly farmland. Like Mississippi, it rarely votes for Democrats. It also does not allow any alcohol to be sold in grocery stores. Its people are more interested in ice hockey and less interested in soccer than California.
- West Virginia is one of the least diverse states in the nation, in contrast to California. Country music and football are much more popular there. One similarity is that both states were part of the Union during the Civil War, after West Virginia separated from Virginia. While California relies on natural gas and a range of other sources for electricity, West Virginia is almost entirely powered by coal. However, while the state favors Republicans, it does tend to elect more Democrats than other states on this list.
- Arkansas is similar to Alabama and Mississippi. It has a far higher percentage of gun owners and hunter license holders than California. Its laws are also much more conservative than California. Its voters are required to have photo IDs. It also has more laws restricting abortion.
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