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 landlocked states in the Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains run through four of the five most similar states to Wyoming. They are all landlocked and sparsely populated as well. These states are some of the least diverse in the nation, with a vast majority of their people being White. With the exception of Colorado, their governments are generally dominated by the Republican Party and therefore have few gun restrictions. These states are mostly Protestant and are neither especially religious nor irreligious.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Wyoming
- Idaho‘s demographics and culture are extremely similar to Wyoming. 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 located to Wyoming’s north, but their climates are quite similar. Both states get little rainfall, but a significant portion of snow. Despite being so far west, most of their water flows east, towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Montana’s demographics are also similar to Wyoming and Idaho, however it has a lower percentage of Latinos. The economies of both states also rely on mineral extraction.
- Colorado borders Wyoming to the south, so their geography is similar. Both states have many ski resorts. However, Colorado is more densely populated and less rural. Furthermore, Colorado favors Democrats, while Wyoming has been a stronghold of the Republican Party. Still, both states have relatively few restrictions on guns and vary rarely implement the death penalty.
- South Dakota is to the east of Wyoming. In fact a large portion of Wyoming was once part of Dakota Territory. The states have nearly the same education level and average age. Both states have many people with hunting licenses and also have a low drug usage rates. They are also similar politically, but one big difference is that marijuana is legal in South Dakota. Their geography is somewhat different. It is has a far higher percentage agricultural land. In addition, it has a significantly higher percentage of surface water area.
- Nebraska has much more agricultural land and its landscape is not nearly as mountainous as Wyoming. In addition, its crops are completely different, since Wyoming mostly grows hay, while Nebraska grows a mix of corn and soybean. Still, the two states have some 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. Both states still allow voting without an ID. They also have right-to-work laws.
The five least similar states to Wyoming are all located in the Northeastern portion of the United States. These states also all border the Atlantic Ocean. They are more densely populated and have a much more diverse population. These states also have a much higher percentage of forested land. Their climates are not nearly as dry as Wyoming’s. Furthermore, the five least similar states have far more Democrats in their government than Wyoming.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Wyoming
- New Jersey is the most densely populated state and Wyoming (with the exception of Alaska) is the least densely populated state. New Jersey’s population is also very diverse, while Wyoming is predominately White, with German ancestry being most common. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to landlocked Wyoming. In addition, very few Democrats get elected in Wyoming, unlike New Jersey.
- Rhode Island has the highest Catholic population of any state, in contrast to Wyoming. Rhode Island is the smallest state by land area and is also much more densely populated than Wyoming. Furthermore it is far less mountainous. A large percentage of its land is urban and close to the coast. Rhode Island also relies on natural gas to create electricity, while a majority of Wyoming’s electricity is created by coal power plants.
- Massachusetts is more diverse than Wyoming. 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 Wyoming. It is also far more densely populated and most of its people live in urban areas.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Very few people have guns or hunting licenses, in contrast to Wyoming. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer have cars. The national origins of its people is much different than Wyoming, since New York is much more diverse and its White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin and has a much lower percentage of people with German ancestry.
- Connecticut is quite similar to many other states on this list. Their infrastructure is far different. Connecticut uses natural gas and nuclear power to create electricity, while Wyoming primarily uses coal. It also uses the most electricity per capita of any state. Little mining is done in Connecticut, in contrast to Wyoming. Another difference is that Wyoming has a higher percentage of gun owners and hunters than Connecticut.
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