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 the prairies
North Dakota is similar to many states. The top 5 are all located along the Missouri River and are predominately grasslands. They are all landlocked, sparsely populated, and have most of their land devoted to agriculture. In addition, they have a high percentage of White people and also favor the Republican Party.
Top 5 States Most Similar to North Dakota
- South Dakota and North Dakota both became states in 1889. Both populations have primarily German ancestry but also Norwegian ancestry. As a result, there are many Lutherans in these states. In addition, the states have high gun ownership rates and many people with hunting licenses. However, there are more differences than one might expect. Although both states are conservative, North Dakota and South Dakota rarely vote for the same candidates in presidential primaries. In addition, North Dakota has more mining activity. It uses far more energy per capita due to fracking there. Furthermore, their people tend to have different accents.
- Nebraska is directly to the south of South Dakota. Much of the western portion of North Dakota was once part of Nebraska Territory. Most of their largest cities are run by Republican mayors. However, there are still some political differences. Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral legislature. It also has a higher minimum wage than North Dakota and the death penalty is still legal there.
- Iowa is another state that borders Minnesota. Both states have a lot of farmland, but Iowa’s crops are slightly different, since it grows far more corn, and less wheat. The states primarily use both coal and wind power to create electricity. One difference is that the Democratic Party tends to do better in Iowa. It voted for Obama twice. Another difference is that Iowa also has more gun restrictions and has less restrictions on abortion, although both states have banned the death penalty.
- Kansas is much more south than North Dakota so it is warmer and gets less snow. As a result, its people are less interested in ice hockey and more interested in basketball. Still, the states are fairly similar. They are both quite flat states with lots of agricultural land. Both states grow a mix of wheat, corn, and soybeans. In addition, their laws are fairly similar. They have few restrictions on guns, but many restrictions on abortion.
- Montana is to the west of North Dakota. Most of its land was once part of Dakota Territory. The states receive about the same about of snow, but Montana is slightly drier. Both states are primarily White and have little racial diversity. A high percentage of the water in these states comes from surface water reservoirs, not ground water. One big difference is Montana is much more mountainous. It is also in the Mountain Time Zone, not the Central Time Zone, like other states on this list. Furthermore, it is not on the same electrical grid.
Top 5 States Least Similar to North Dakota
- Hawaii is the opposite of North Dakota in a number of different geographic ways. It is an island in the Pacific Ocean that gets a lot of rainfall. It is also quite mountainous and a far higher percentage of its land is forested. In addition, Hawaii is far less conservative than North Dakota. Very few Republicans get elected there. In addition, its population of Native Hawaiian and East Asian ancestry is much higher.
- California is yet another state bordering the Pacific Ocean on this list. California has a far higher percentage of Latinos and Asian Americans than North Dakota. Like Hawaii, its climate is much warmer and its terrain is more mountainous. Furthermore, it is one of the most liberal states in the country.
- Massachusetts is far more diverse as well. It has a higher percentage of Asians and African Americans. It also has less people with German and Norwegian ancestry and more Irish and Italians. In addition, it has many immigrants. The state is also wealthier and more educated than North Dakota. Not only do most people live close to the ocean, but it is also much more densely populated. However, both states get significant snowfall and enjoy ice hockey.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, while North Dakota has many gun owners and people with hunting licenses. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer people have cars. New York is also more mountainous than South Dakota and has a much higher percentage of forested land.
- New Jersey is the most densely populated state in contrast to North Dakota. A low percentage of its land is used for farming. They also create electricity differently. New Jersey relies on nuclear power and natural gas, while North Dakota uses coal and wind power. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to landlocked North Dakota. In addition, far fewer Republicans are elected there.
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