Have you ever wondered how similar or different two states are? The State Similarity Index 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 Index
Similar to other Southern states
Virginia is a Southern state, but it has some traits of states in the Mid-Atlantic as well. The five most similar states were part of the original 13 colonies of the United States. The four of the five most similar states allowed slavery and segregation in the past. The Appalachian Mountains run through all of these states as well. With the exception of Pennsylvania, they all border the Atlantic Ocean.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Virginia
- North Carolina borders Virginia to the south. Their demographics are quite similar. However, Virginia has a higher percentage of Asians. Both states have a lot of military personal and also many different military bases. These states have recently voted for most of the same presidential primary candidates as well. North Carolina and Virginia also have few people that are members of a union. However, one big difference is that North Carolina is not as wealthy and far more of their people own mobile homes.
- Maryland is the only other state that borders the Chesapeake Bay. Their demographics are very similar, since the suburbs of Washington DC are in both states. However, unlike other states on this list, Maryland was not part of the Confederacy. The states have voted for all the same presidential primary candidates since 1996, although Maryland has less conservative laws. It has less restrictions on abortion, and more restrictions on smoking. Moreover, the death penalty is not legal there.
- Georgia is much farther south than Virginia, so its climate is significantly warmer than Virginia’s. Still, these states have many similarities as well. They have a similar percentage of gun owners and people with hunting licenses. Both states do not ban smoking in public settings. Another similarity is that both states predominately use natural gas and nuclear power to create electricity.
- South Carolina is yet another state on the Atlantic Coast on this list. Both states were original colonies. However, South Carolina favors Republicans significantly more than Virginia. Another difference is that its people are not as wealthy and less well educated on average. Unlike the other states on the list, it does not have any major metro areas.
- Pennsylvania is the only state on the list that does not border the Atlantic Ocean, although the Delaware River is a navigable estuary that leads to it. Otherwise, the geography of the two states have is fairly similar. Both states are quite mountainous, since the Appalachians run though them and most of their land is forested. One difference is politics. Pennsylvania is more favorable for Democratic candidates than Virginia. It is also the only state on this list that did not allow slavery.
The five least similar states to Virginia are all located to the west of Mississippi. They became part of the United States much later than Virginia. Furthermore, most of these states are less densely populated. With the exception of Hawaii, forests cover less than 50% of the land in these states. Another difference is that these states have a much lower percentage of Blacks than Virginia.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Virginia
- Wyoming is a sparsely populated, landlocked state. Wyoming’s infrastructure is especially different from Virginia. The state uses far more energy per capita. Furthermore, it has much lower density of roads and railroads. It also has little racial diversity. Few minorities live there. Its electricity is mostly powered by coal, while Virginia’s two biggest sources are natural gas and nuclear energy.
- Alaska‘s climate is far colder than Virginia and it gets more snowfall. The state is also less densely populated and has a much lower percentage of agricultural land. Although both states are mountainous, Alaska’s peaks are significantly higher. It is one of the newest states, while Virginia is an original colony. The state also has a much larger Native American population than Virginia.
- Montana is another state with an extremely low population density on this list. It also has a colder and drier climate. Furthermore, it is landlocked. It is also less diverse than Virginia, since the vast majority of its people are White and few minorities live there. The state has a higher percentage of high school graduates, but a lower percentage of people that completed college and have advanced degrees.
- Utah is far different from Virginia since most of its people are Mormons. It is also by far the state with the lowest average age. Another big difference is its geography. The state is landlocked and is mostly desert land, in contrast to Virginia. As a result, most of its landscape is barren. Another difference is that Republicans are more popular in Utah than Virginia. Smoking in public and buying alcohol is heavily restricted in Utah, but in Virginia there are less restrictions.
- Hawaii‘s demographics are also far different from Virginia, since most of its people have East Asian or Native Hawaiian ancestry. It has a tropical climate, since it is much further to the south. Its people tend to be more liberal and tolerant. Hawaii was the last state to become part of the United States, while Virginia was one of the first. However, both states are mountainous and have a significant amount of coastline.
Do you agree with the list?
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