America’s Most Average States

Have you ever wondered what are America’s most average states?
One way to answer this difficult question is by analyzing the data from the State Similarity Index. The index attempts to quantify how similar American states are to each other relative to other states, using a variety of statistics. It weighs equally five major aspects of states: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. An analysis of the data gives some suggestions for what states are the most average. Interestingly enough, four out of the top five border the Great Lakes.

1. MISSOURI

According to the data from the State Similarity Index, Missouri is the most average state in the country. It is also the most average state, if states are weighted by their land area. The state could be grouped into either the Midwestern or Southern regions of the United States.

Like the country as a whole, the average age of Missouri’s population is 38 years old. Its people are neither exceptionally obese nor exceptionally tall. In addition, people in the state have about an average level of education. Furthermore, Missouri has about the same percentage of married people as the national average. Although the state has a higher percentage of Whites than the rest of the country, the self-identified ancestry of its White population is representative of the entire nation. The plurality are German, but the state also has many people that report having English, Irish, and American ancestry.

Missouri was the 24th out of the 50 states to join the United States. Most people in the state speak with a Midwestern accent, which has become the standard American accent, but people in the southern portion of the state tend to have a Southern accent. Furthermore, people from St. Louis have a Northern accent, influenced by Chicago. About 36% of the people in Missouri attend church services weekly, very close to the national average. 9% of its people are union members, while the national average is 10%.

Politics is one category that Missouri is not especially average. Missouri favors Republicans and tends to have conservative laws. Missouri did not join the Confederacy during the Civil War, although the state allowed slavery. Even after the war, the state practiced racial segregation for decades. Unlike their legislature, the state’s supreme court is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, many states in the nation have adopted the “Missouri Plan” of selecting judges for their courts.

The value of Missouri’s manufacturing output per capita is about the same as the national average. The state has about the average number of airplane passengers and Amtrak passengers per capita as well. 7% of houses in Missouri are mobile homes, while the national average is 8%. Furthermore, the median year houses were built in Missouri is 1975, while the national median is 1976.

Missouri is located in the geographic center of the 48 states. The average center of the US population is also located in this state. The state has a mix of grasslands and broadleaf forests. 35% of Missouri’s land is forested, while 36% of the land in the United States is forested. Both the United States and Missouri have about 95 people per square mile. Like many states, the majority of its water flows into the Gulf of Mexico, via the Mississippi River.

2. WISCONSIN

The data shows that Wisconsin is another state that is quite representative of the country as a whole. The state has the third highest overall average. Even if states are weighted by their land area, Wisconsin has the fourth highest average.

The per capita income of people in Wisconsin is $36,500, nearly the same as the national per capita income. It does not have an especially high rate of poverty, but it does not have huge amount of rich people either. The suicide rate and incarceration rate are about average as well. 45% of its households have a gun, similar to the national average. However, the state has far more people with hunting licenses than normal.

Wisconsin’s legislature is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. Since 2010, the state has had one Democratic senator and one Republican senator as well. The winner of Wisconsin’s presidential primary election for both parties often goes on to win the party’s nomination. In the past 20 years, only Bernie Sanders didn’t get chosen in 2016. Although Democratic presidential candidates often win Wisconsin, only Barack Obama won more than 50% of the state’s vote since Ronald Reagan.

Although the state is more northern than the majority states, Wisconsin is located in the Central Time Zone. It is the 25th largest state in land area. Wisconsin has about an even mix of farmland and forested land. Generally speaking, the state is mostly rolling hills, so it isn’t especially mountainous or flat. Despite being located in the middle of the country, Wisconsin has a decent amount of coastline as well, since it borders Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

3. OHIO

According to the data, Ohio is the most average state in the United States, if states are weighted by their population. It is also the most average state in the Midwest, which is the most average region of the country. The state is often used as a test market for consumer products.

Ohio has nearly the same percentage of Whites and Blacks as the national average. However, the state has few Latinos, relative to the rest of the country. Ohio also has about the same percentage of Protestants and Catholics as the national average. In addition, about 15% of its people are Baptists, this is again close to the US average. Furthermore, 48% of people in Ohio are married, the same as the national average.

Not only does Ohio have average demographics, but it is politically average as well. Between 1964 and 2016, the candidate that won Ohio also won the presidency. The state does not heavily favor Democrats or Republicans. Obama won the state twice, but Bush won the state twice as well. Since 2006, Ohio has had one Republican senator and one Democratic senator. However, its state legislature has more Republicans than Democrats.

Ohio ranks 24 out of 50 states on the amount of energy consumed per capita. It also has about the same number of vehicles per capita as the US overall. Although Ohio is not located next to the ocean, it does have significant shipping ports along the Ohio River and Lake Erie. Like the country overall, Ohio’s electricity mostly comes from natural gas and coal power, but also nuclear power.

The Appalachian Mountains run through the Southeast portion of Ohio, but the rest of the state is fairly flat. Ohio has a temperate climate, so it usually does not get especially cold or hot. The state also receives about the US average amount of snowfall. Since it occupies a central position within the Eastern United States, it is within a one day drive of 50% of the country’s population.

4. PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania has traits of both the Midwest and the Northeast regions. According to the data, Pennsylvania is the second most average state in the United States, if states are weighted by their population. Due to its central location among the 13 original colonies, it is nicknamed the Keystone State.

48% of people in Pennsylvania are married, the same as the national average. In addition, Pennsylvania’s per capita income is close to the national average as well. The typical amount of aerobic activity its people do is almost the same as the overall nation. The state has major universities in both the Big Ten Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference. It also has the southern-most Ivy league school.

Pennsylvania’s legislature is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. In addition, Pennsylvania’s legislators in the US House of Representatives are split 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats. The winner of Pennsylvania’s presidential primary election for both Democrats and Republicans often goes on to win the nomination. In the past 20 years, only Hillary Clinton didn’t get chosen, when she was beaten by Barack Obama. Pennsylvania still allows people to be charged with the death penalty, but it has not been used recently. There is a formal moratorium on executions.

Pennsylvania has navigable waterways to many bodies of water. It borders the Great Lakes. The Delaware River estuary has access to the Atlantic Coast as well. Interestingly enough, since Pittsburgh is the terminus of the Ohio River, it also has access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The state has a temperate climate gets about the same amount of rainfall as the US overall. Pennsylvania’s terrain is quite mountainous, but its highest peaks are not nearly as tall as states in the Western part of the country.

5. MICHIGAN

Four of the five most average states border the Great Lakes, so it is not surprising that the data shows Michigan is one of the most average states as well. It borders four of the five Great Lakes. Interestingly enough, Michigan was the 26th out of the 50 states to join the United States.

Michigan has nearly the same percentage of Whites and Blacks as the national average. However, the state has few Latinos, relative to the rest of the country. The average age of people in Michigan is 40. The average age of the country is only slightly lower at 38. 48% of people in Michigan are married, the same as the national average.

While Michigan is 18% Catholic, the overall country is 21% Catholic. 63% of its people believe in God, the same as the national average. 25% are Evangelical Christians. This is also similar to the overall nation. Just over 50% of its people have cable television, like the overall country. The state also has internet speeds that are in line with the national average.

Although Michigan tends to favor Democratic candidates in presidential elections, its legislature is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. The state supreme court also has four Democrats and three Republicans. In addition, since 1983, Michigan has switched between a Republican governor and a Democratic governor every eight years.

Other Average States

6. Virginia, 7. Illinois, 8. Minnesota, 9. North Carolina, 10. Kansas

Median

  1. Missouri – 68.6
  2. Ohio – 66.7
  3. Virginia – 65.9
  4. Michigan – 65.9
  5. Pennsylvania – 65.3

Highest Least Similar States

  1. Pennsylvania – 53.1 (to Hawaii)
  2. Minnesota – 53.1 (to Hawaii)
  3. Illinois – 52.7 (to Wyoming)
  4. Virginia -52.7 (to Alaska)
  5. Wisconsin – 51.8 (to Hawaii)

Lowest Overall Average, Unweighted

  1. Missouri – 67.8
  2. Ohio – 67.7
  3. Wisconsin – 67.2
  4. Pennsylvania – 66.6
  5. Michigan – 66.4

Lowest Overall Average, Weighted by Population

  1. Ohio – 68.6
  2. Pennsylvania – 68.4
  3. Illinois – 67.9
  4. Virginia – 67.9
  5. North Carolina – 67.8

Lowest Overall Average, Weighted by Land Area

  1. Missouri – 66.3
  2. Kansas – 66.0
  3. Colorado – 65.7
  4. Wisconsin – 65.3
  5. Montana – 65.2

Do you agree with this list? How would you reorder the rankings?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

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