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 to arrive at the conclusions.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Alaska
No other states are especially similar to Alaska, since it is one of the country’s most unique states. Its climate is much colder than the rest of the country. The five most similar states to it are also sparsely populated and have colder climates than the average state. They all have part of the Rocky Mountains running though them as well. Furthermore, these states are among the last states admitted to the union. In addition, a majority of the people in these states are White.
- Montana is another cold, mountainous, and sparsely populated state. It is also extremely similar in regards to religion, except for the fact that Alaska has more Orthodox Christians. Although both states favor electing Republicans, Montana has had many Democratic governors recently. Both states have also legalized marijuana and banned smoking in public places. Another similarity is that both states have a significant Native American population, although Alaska’s is over twice as large.
- Idaho may have the most similar climate compared to Alaska of any other state. It has roughly the same percentage of forests and is also extremely mountainous. However, despite the fact that both states favor Republicans, Idaho has far more conservative laws than Alaska. While Alaska does not even allow life in prison, the death penalty is still legal in Idaho. Idaho does not even allow medical marijuana. Furthermore, it has more restrictions to abortion.
- Washington is the closest state in proximity to Alaska. Both states border the Pacific Ocean. However, Washington is significantly more liberal than Alaska, so it has far more Democrats in its government. Still, they have some similar laws. Both states have abolished the death penalty. They also have laws favorable to unions and a higher than average minimum wage. Interestingly enough, when Alaska was still a territory, congress passed a law that required all goods entering or leaving the territory to be shipped to Seattle first.
- Wyoming has the second lowest population density, after Alaska. Both states use a lot of energy due to industrial activities. However, Wyoming creates far more electricity per capita than Alaska. Furthermore, most of its electricity is created by coal power plants, unlike Alaska. Wyoming also uses more water per capita. This is in part due to irrigation. Wyoming has a much larger percentage of agricultural land.
- Colorado is another state that has a long history of mining in the Rocky Mountains. Both scenic states are very snowy and mountainous. Their demographics are also fairly similar, although Alaska has fewer Latinos. They both have relatively high military enlistment rates. Both states have banned the death penalty and also smoking in public places. In addition, ice hockey is especially popular in these states. However, Colorado tends to favor the Democratic Party in elections, unlike Alaska.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Alaska
The five least similar states to Alaska are far more densely populated. In addition, the five least similar states have a higher percentage of forested land than Alaska. They are all located in the Eastern portion of the United States and border the Atlantic Ocean. These states were colonized by the United States much longer than Alaska, since it was Russian territory until 1867. Furthermore, while Alaska has more men than women, these states have more women than men.
- New Jersey, in contrast to Alaska, has the densest population of any state. As a result, its infrastructure is much more developed. It has a more dense network of roads, railroads, and pipelines. Furthermore, New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the country. Another difference is that New Jersey heavily favors Democrats. It also has a higher percentage of Blacks and people with Italian heritage than Alaska.
- Mississippi is one of the poorest states. It has the highest percentage of Blacks in the United States. The state has little interest in hockey, but produces a high amount of football players. However both Alaska and Mississippi are quite rural and conservative. Both states favor Republicans. Another difference is that Mississippi’s terrain is relatively flat and it also has a significantly warmer climate.
- Florida is another extremely flat state it in the Southern region of the United States. Part of the state has a tropical climate so it is also much warmer than Alaska. While Florida has one of the oldest average populations in the country, Alaska has one of the youngest. Still, one thing these states have in common is that they are peninsulas, so they have a lot of coastline and many cruise ships.
- Rhode Island is the smallest state by area, in contrast to Alaska. It also has the highest percentage of Catholics. A large percentage of its area is urban land. Rhode Island is one of the heaviest users of Amtrak in the United States, while Alaska is heavily reliant on airplanes and ships for travel between states. While gambling and even the lottery is not allowed in Alaska, Rhode Island’s gambling laws are quite liberal.
- Massachusetts is one of the most well educated and affluent states. A majority of its people are Catholic. It is also one of the least religious states. While Massachusetts hosted the first permanent English colony in North America, Alaska was the second to last state admitted to the union. The average age of homes in Massachusetts is much older as well. However, both states are relatively cold and they also both like hockey.
Alaska is like if Montana was more like Hawaii
Montana is the most similar state to Alaska. However, these states have many differences as well. Although Hawaii is far different from Alaska, the data shows that it has many of the characteristics of Alaska that Montana lacks. While Montana is landlocked, Hawaii and Alaska have a lot coastline that borders the Pacific Ocean. They also have a more diverse population than Montana, since they have a higher percentage of Asians, Latinos, and indigenous people. Hawaii and Alaska are two of a handful of states that do not even have a lottery as well.
All data accurate as of 2020.