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 states in Great Lakes region
The five most similar states to Michigan all border the Great Lakes. This is no surprise as the state borders 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. These states have a similar continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. They also have a mix of farmland and forested land. This region of the United States that was once dominated by the manufacturing industry, before its recent decline due to outsourcing, so it is nicknamed the Rust Belt.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Michigan
- Wisconsin‘s geography is very similar to Michigan. The states have almost the same percentage of agricultural land and forest area. It is the only other state that borders Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. In addition, they are also very similar politically. Both states favor the Democratic Party, but Trump won both states in 2016. Despite the fact that Michigan and Wisconsin have many union members, both states have passed laws that are unfavorable to unions. Both states have also banned capital punishment and require photo IDs to vote. However, Wisconsin has a far lower percentage of African Americans.
- Ohio is to the southeast of Michigan. Both states border Lake Erie. Their demographics are especially similar. Their average income and education are also alike. The states also have a huge rivalry against each other, since both states have universities that are in the Big Ten. However, Ohio leans more towards Republicans than Democrats than Michigan. Both states elect their judges by popular vote, but Michigan’s are non-partisan.
- Minnesota is another stronghold of the Democratic Party. Despite this neither Michigan nor Minnesota have laws that are especially favorable to immigrants, since they are not sanctuary states and do not allow undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Both have a similar percentage of farmland and grow nearly the same crops. Even their electricity comes from the same source. Both mostly use a mix of coal, nuclear, gas, but also wind power. They are also both relatively flat.
- Pennsylvania is only state in the top five that is not normally considered to be in the Midwest. However, Michigan and Pennsylvania share many things in common. The racial make up of both states is nearly identical. Like Wisconsin and Michigan, it is another state that Trump won in 2016, despite its Democratic leanings. Both states have banned marriage between cousins and have many restrictions on abortion. Both states have many aging and abandoned factories. The biggest difference between the states is that Pennsylvania is more mountainous. In addition, Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 states, so it has a longer Colonial history.
- Indiana is to the southwest of Michigan. It is another Midwestern state with similar demographics, although it has fewer African Americans. The population density of Michigan and Indiana is also alike. Both states are predominately in the Eastern Time Zone, but also have parts that are in the Central Time Zone. One big difference is politics. In presidential elections, Indiana has only voted for a Democrat once in the last 30 years. While marijuana is legal in Michigan, Indiana only allows a limited amount of medical marijuana. In addition, Indiana has less restrictions to smoking tobacco in public places than Michigan.
The five least similar states to Michigan are all located to the west of the Mississippi River. Four of the five are much less densely populated. These states are also significantly more mountainous. Unlike Michigan, relatively little manufacturing is done in these states.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Michigan
- Hawaii has a far higher percentage of people with East Asian and Native Hawaiian ancestry than Michigan. Its climate is also far different, since it is a tropical island. Still, there are some similarities as well. Both states have a lot of coastline. They also have a similar percentage of agricultural land and forested land, although their plants are completely different. In addition, both states favor the Democratic Party. They also have high percentages of singles and single parents. The average age of their populations is nearly identical as well.
- Utah‘s demographics and culture are extremely different from Michigan. Utah’s population has a majority of Mormons. In addition, it is the youngest state on average. Furthermore, it has a high percentage of married people and few singles. Much of Utah is a desert, while water is incredibly abundant in Michigan. Like Wyoming, it nearly always votes for Republicans in state-wide elections.
- Alaska is another state that is also a peninsula that gets a lot of snowfall, although their similarities largely end there. Michigan is far more densely populated and developed. It is also much less mountainous. In addition, Alaska favors the Republican Party. Although both states enjoy hockey, Michigan has developed far more professional athletes per capita. It also has a high percentage of people in the military in contrast to Michigan.
- Wyoming‘s infrastructure is quite different from Michigan. The state uses far more water and electricity per capita. It also has a much lower density of roads and railroads. Furthermore, few democrats are elected in Wyoming, although it did have a Democratic governor from 2003 to 2011. Wyoming also has no income tax, while Michigan generates a lot of money through it. In addition, Wyoming is landlocked and quite mountainous, whereas Michigan is surrounded by lakes and fairly flat.
- New Mexico is another state that landlocked state in the Rocky Mountains. It has a far higher percentage of Latinos, so far more people natively speak Spanish there. It also has a far lower percentage of African Americans than Michigan. Its climate is much warmer and drier as well. Furthermore, it is much more sparsely populated. However, both states favor the Democratic Party.
Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.