Which States are Most Similar to Wisconsin? 2.0

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

Four of the five most similar states to Wisconsin border the Great Lakes. These states have a similar climate and tend to have a lot of agricultural land. The vast majority of the people in these states are White and they have relatively few Latinos. Manufacturing and industry is an important part of the economy in this region as well. Interestingly enough, the five most similar states to Wisconsin all have universities that are part of the Big Ten.

Top 5 States Most Similar to Wisconsin

  1. Minnesota is to the west of Wisconsin. It was once part of Wisconsin Territory, before becoming its own state. Their ethnic compositions are quite alike. Both states have a high percentage of people with German ancestry, but also Norwegian ancestry as well. They also have relatively many Hmong immigrants. Their geography is also similar. Both states have lots of lakes, nearly the same percentage of farmland, and a similar climate. In addition, Minnesota and Wisconsin favor Democrats, although Wisconsin has more conservative laws.
  2. Michigan and Wisconsin both border Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The states have almost the same percentage of agricultural land and forest area. 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.
  3. Iowa does not border the Great Lakes, but they both border the Mississippi River. Iowa also has a much higher percentage of farmland and less forested land. Furthermore, Iowa is more conservative. Still, the states have many similarities. Both states are over 80% White, with primarily German ancestry. They also have relatively few Latinos and African Americans. The states also have about the same median income per capita. Their climates are essentially the same and most homes in both states use natural gas for heating. In addition, both states have not raised the minimum wage higher than required by the federal government.
  4. Indiana also borders Lake Michigan, although it is further south. However, it is much more conservative than Wisconsin. Still, their laws are actually pretty similar. Both states have right to work laws and few restrictions on guns or abortion. In addition, these states only allow a limited amount of medical marijuana, but have few restrictions on the sale of alcohol. Their demographics are also similar. Both states are mostly White, although Indiana is less well educated. It has a lower percentage of college and high school graduates.
  5. Ohio is another Midwestern state in the Rust Belt. Although Ohio has tended to vote for Republicans for president more often than Wisconsin, 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. One difference is that Ohio is in the Eastern Time Zone, not Central.

The five least similar states to Wisconsin are all located to the West of the Mississippi River. In addition, they all have warmer climates. With the exception of Hawaii, these states also have significantly less rainfall as well. Moreover, these states are also more mountainous. They have a far lower percentage of White people than Wisconsin as well. In addition, relatively little manufacturing is done in these states.

Top 5 States Least Similar to Wisconsin

  1. Hawaii is quite different from Wisconsin, despite the fact that both states tend to vote for Democrats in presidential contests. Their geography is quite different. Wisconsin is cold, has many lakes, and no tall mountains. In contrast, Hawaii has a tropical climate, many tall mountains, and very few lakes. Furthermore, Hawaii has a high percentage of Asians and a low percentage of White people. Their infrastructure is quite different as well. Wisconsin only has an army base, while Hawaii has a military base for all 5 branches of the armed services.
  2. Nevada‘s climate is much drier and has little agricultural or forested land as a result. The state is much less densely populated and also landlocked. Nevada has a much more liberal policy on gambling than Wisconsin as well. Nevada also has far more restrictions on abortion, although both have few restrictions on guns or the sale of alcohol. Furthermore, Nevada has a high Latino population, like California.
  3. California is another state with quite different demographics from Wisconsin. It has a far higher percentage of Latinos and Asian Americans. In fact, less than 50% of the people there are White. Its climate is also much warmer and it is more mountainous. Despite both states having many union workers, California has more laws to protect unions.
  4. New Mexico has a much higher percentage of Latinos than Wisconsin, so a much higher percentage of its people can speak Spanish. It is also landlocked and has a hotter and drier climate. It is also much more sparsely populated. Furthermore, New Mexico is not as wealthy as Wisconsin and its infrastructure is not as well developed. Still, both states often vote for Democrats in presidential elections.
  5. Utah is another landlocked state on this list. Utah’s culture is especially different from Wisconsin since most of its people are Mormons. Since Mormons tend to have large families, it has the lowest average age, in contrast to Wisconsin.  Another difference is that people in Utah rarely vote for Democrats, unlike in Wisconsin. Although both states are mostly White, Utah’s people have more English ancestry, while Wisconsin has more people with German and Scandinavian ancestry. 

Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Wisconsin

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


Leave a Reply