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 other liberal states in the Western US
Washington is relatively unique. Only Oregon, California, and Colorado have a strong similarity to it. The top five states all have tended to vote for Democrats in recent years and have relatively liberal laws. The federal government still owns a significant portion of the land in the four most similar states.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Washington
- Oregon is just to the south of Washington. Until 1853, they were both part of Oregon Territory. Their geography is highly similar. They both border the Pacific Ocean and have a similar climate. In addition, their terrain is quite mountainous. Aside from major cities along the western portions of their states, they are quite sparsely populated. Both states are known for their counter culture. They are also similar politically. Both states have many Democrats and Republicans rarely win statewide election there. As a result, they have liberal laws. Recreational marijuana is legal in both states. However, Oregon is not as wealthy as Washington.
- Colorado does not border Washington, but it does have many similarities. Although Colorado is landlocked, their landscape is similar. Both states are in the Rocky Mountains and they have several national parks. Their people tend to do more exercise than most other states. Their demographics are also similar, although Colorado has a higher percentage of Latinos and a lower percentage of Asians. They are also both more affluent than most states. Like Washington and Oregon, Colorado also has liberal laws. Both states allow recreational marijuana.
- California is another state that borders the Pacific Ocean. However, California’s climate is warmer. It also has far more Latinos than Washington, although both states have many Asians. Union membership is quite high in these states. Furthermore, a significant percentage of the people in both states rely on public transportation. Since 1992, these states have only voted for Democratic presidential candidates. They both have high minimum wages. One big difference is that Washington has no income tax, while California has high income taxes.
- Nevada borders both California and Oregon. It is yet another mountainous state on this list. However, Nevada is not as wealthy and has a lower percentage of college graduates. It also has a far higher percentage of Latinos. Nevada’s climate is much drier than Washington’s. It is also more sparsely populated. Like California, both states have many people that are part of a union. However, Nevada’s minimum wage is much lower than Washington’s. While Democrats have done well in recent years in this state, it does not favor Democrats nearly as much as Washington.
- Illinois is a surprising state to make this list. It is located in the Midwest, unlike the four most similar states. The laws in Illinois are especially similar to Washington’s. Since 1992, these states have only voted for Democratic presidential candidates. Both states have large multi-cultural cities in them, where many large corporations are located. Still, unlike Washington, the terrain in Illinois is much flatter. It also has far less coastline.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Washington
- Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans and very few Asians. In addition, it is a very conservative state that rarely votes for Democrats. Furthermore, its geography is quite different from Washington since it has few mountains and a greater percentage of its land is farmed. It is also one of the poorest states and has the fewest amount of cars per capita. Unlike Washington few people use public transportation as well.
- Alabama is another extremely 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 than Washington. Its climate is significantly hotter than Washington’s as well. In addition, the state has far less coastline.
- Louisiana is far less mountainous than Washington, although both states have a lot of coastline. Louisiana also gets the most rainfall of any state. Washington also gets significant rainfall, but some areas of the state have a relatively dry climate. It has a far higher percentage of people with African ancestry and a lower percentage of people with Asian ancestry. The state is also far less wealthy than Washington.
- Arkansas is similar to Alabama and Mississippi. It has a far higher percentage of gun owners and hunter license holders than Washington. Its laws are also much more conservative than Washington. It also has more laws restricting abortion and less laws restricting the possession of guns. Another difference is that Arkansas is landlocked.
- South Carolina is another Southern state on this list. It is one of the original thirteen colonies. In addition, the state has far more mobile homes as well. Furthermore, it is primarily powered by nuclear energy, while Washington relies on hydropower. It is also one of the most conservative states in the country.
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