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 northern landlocked states
The top 5 states most similar to Idaho are all sparsely populated, rural states. They are some of the least diverse states in the nation, with a vast majority of their people being White. As a result, their governments are generally dominated by the Republican Party and therefore have few gun restrictions.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Idaho
- Wyoming‘s demographics and culture are extremely similar to Idaho. Both states are predominately White with mostly German and English ancestry. They also both have around 7% Latinos. Wyoming was actually part of Idaho Territory for a short period in its history. Although the states are also alike politically, a photo ID is not required to vote in Wyoming. It also spends much less per capita on education and health care spending. Another difference is that Wyoming relies on coal to create electricity, while Idaho uses mostly hydropower. Idaho and Wyoming are also the states that use the most water per capita. They also have some of the highest home ownership rates in the country.
- Montana is to Idaho’s northeast, across the Rocky Mountains. The states have a similar climate, so both grow mostly wheat and hay. Their infrastructure is also similar. Most of the public water in both states is not fluorinated. These states also have the slowest internet in the country, besides Alaska. However, there are some political differences, although Republicans are strong in both states, Montana has had many Democratic governors and senators. It also has less restrictions on abortion.
- Utah is just to the south of Idaho. The states have the two highest percentages of Mormons in the country, although Idaho only has 19%, so the average age of people in Idaho is significantly higher. In addition, both states have large swathes of desert but also coniferous forests. They also have a similar percentage of farmland and forested land. Still, Utah’s climate is significantly drier.
- South Dakota does not border Idaho, but they still have many aspects in common. Both states overwhelming prefer country music to rap and rock. They also create most of their electricity through hydropower. They are also similar politically. Both states require a photo ID to vote and have few civil rights protections. One difference is that marijuana is legal in South Dakota. Another big difference is that South Dakota has a far higher percentage agricultural land and their crops are not especially similar.
- Kansas has much more agricultural land and its landscape is not nearly as mountainous as Idaho. Still, the two states have some major cultural and political similarities. Neither state is especially religious in their daily lives, but both states have few people that do not believe in god. In addition, marijuana has not been legalized in these states. Both also have a low minimum wage and are right-to-work states.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Idaho
- Massachusetts is much more diverse than Idaho. It has a higher percentage of Asians and African Americans. In addition, it has many Chinese, French, and Portuguese speakers. Its people are also far less religious. Massachusetts is the most highly educated state, in contrast to Idaho. It is also far more densely populated and most of its people live in urban areas, near the coast.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Very few people have guns or hunting licenses, in contrast to Idaho. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer have cars. The national origins of its people are much different than Idaho as well, since New York’s White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin and has a much lower percentage of people with German ancestry.
- New Jersey is the most densely populated state and its infrastructure is also far more dense. New Jersey’s population is also very diverse, while Idaho’s is predominately White. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to landlocked Idaho. In addition, very few Democrats get elected in Idaho, compared to New Jersey. One interesting similarity is the public water in both states is generally not fluorinated.
- Maryland is yet another state bordering the East Coast on this list. It is similar to New Jersey since it is another densely populated state with lots of coastline. Although Maryland stayed in the Union, it was once a state that allowed slavery. While Wyoming has one of the lowest rates of homicide in the country, Maryland has one of the highest rates.
- Hawaii is the opposite of Idaho in a number of different geographic ways. It is a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean that gets a lot of rainfall. However, both states are mountainous. In addition, Hawaii is far less conservative than Idaho. Very few Republicans get elected there. In addition, its population of Native Hawaiian and East Asian ancestry is much higher.
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