Which States are Most Similar to Ohio?

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

Ohio is like many other states that border the Great Lakes. It is located in the Rust Belt, an area of the United States that was once dominated by the manufacturing industry, before its recent decline due to outsourcing. The state’s geography is not extreme. It has a mix of flat terrain with farmlands and forested mountainous lands. It is fairly average politically as well. Both Democrats and Republicans have the potential to be elected in the state.

Top 5 States Most Similar to Ohio

  1. Indiana is just to the west of Ohio. Both states were part of the Northwest Territories, until it was split up into Ohio and Indiana territory in the early 1800s. They both border the Ohio River and the Great Lakes. The states have a similar climate, so their agriculture is similar as well. They both grow a mix of corn and soybeans. There is not a huge amount of difference between the two states, except that Indiana tends to vote more conservatively. In recent times it has almost always voted for Republican presidents, while Ohio is more of a swing-state.
  2. Pennsylvania is to the east of Ohio. It is especially similar to Ohio politically, since neither Democrats not Republicans are especially dominate there. Its demographics are also fairly similar to Pennsylvania’s. Their population density is nearly identical as well. Both states border Lake Erie. However, although some of the Appalachian Mountains are in Ohio, its terrain is much more mountainous than Ohio’s. It also has far more forested land. Pennsylvania was also an original colony, so it has a longer history of colonization.
  3. Michigan borders Ohio to the North. In their early years, the exact location of this border was disputed, leading to a long standing rivalry between the states. The average income and education level in these states is similar. They also have a low percentage of people in the military. However, Ohio leans more towards Republicans than Democrats. Michigan also has far more coastline than Ohio, since it borders four of the five great lakes. It gets much more snowfall and has colder weather.
  4. Missouri is the only state in the top five that does not border the Great Lakes. Still, these two states share similar characteristics. The racial background of its people are nearly identical. Both are mostly White and have few Asians or Latinos, while they have a significant percentage of Blacks in their major cities. However, the state favors Republicans significantly more than Ohio. It is also more sparsely populated.
  5. Wisconsin does not border Ohio, but the two states share many traits. It is another Midwestern state in the Rust Belt. Although Wisconsin has tended to vote for Democrats for president more often than Ohio, both of their state legislatures are relatively evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Their infrastructure is also similar. Both states create electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas, coal, and nuclear power and they use about the same amount of electricity per capita.

Top 5 States Least Similar to Ohio

  1. Hawaii has far different demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure and geography from Ohio. It has a much higher percentage of Asian people and a lower percentage of White people. Hawaii is also one of the most liberal states and in recent years almost always votes for Democrats. It is also the farthest state from Ohio. Its climate is much hotter than Ohio’s since it is so far south.
  2. Alaska is colder, far more mountainous, and has much more coastline than Ohio. It is also far less densely populated and developed. Alaska also has a high percentage of people in the military in contrast to Ohio. While Ohio has a lot of farming, Alaska is too cold to be farmed commercially. Alaska’s Native American population is significantly higher than Ohio’s as well. While cell phone coverage is nearly ubiquitous across all parts of Ohio, an extremely low percentage of Alaska’s land has coverage.
  3. California has far different demographics, culture, and geography from Ohio. It has a much higher percentage of Latinos and a lower percentage of White people. A far greater percentage of its people rely on public transportation. California is also one of the most liberal states. Its people earn more money per capita and it also has a higher minimum wage. A lower percentage of its land is used for farming and it tends to grow fruit and vegetables, not soybean and corn like Ohio.
  4. Utah‘s culture and geography are extremely different from Ohio. Utah’s population has a majority of Mormons. In addition, it is the youngest state on average. Furthermore, it has a higher percentage of married people. In addition, much of Utah is a desert. Ohio and Utah are also different politically. Utah nearly always votes for Republicans in state-wide elections. 
  5. Wyoming‘s infrastructure is quite different from Ohio’s. The state uses far more water and electricity per capita. It also has a much lower density of roads and railroads. A higher percentage of people are married in Wyoming as well. In addition, Wyoming also has no income tax. Moreover, Wyoming is more mountainous and has a higher elevation than Ohio. It also has a drier and colder average climate.

Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Ohio

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

1 Comment

  1. Hi,

    Would it be possible for you to develop a “Regions of the United States” map, similar to the one you created for the world?

    Just a suggestion, I think that could be interesting.

    Big fan of your work, by the way.


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