The Most Similar States to Colorado

California Similar States Map

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

Colorado is located in the Rocky Mountain region. It is a relatively unique state. The five most similar states are all mountainous and sparsely populated. They also have colder climates than the majority of states. With the exception of New Mexico, the most similar states to Colorado also have a high percentage of White people. Interestingly enough, the three states most similar to it do not border it, unlike the vast majority of states.

California Similar States Diagram

Top 5 States Most Similar to Colorado

  1. Montana does not border Colorado, but their geography is similar. Both states are landlocked and the Rocky Mountains run through them. Their average rainfall is about the same, but Colorado gets more snowfall. Both states do not have great cell phone coverage, but the internet speeds in Colorado are far better. Montana is also significantly more favorable for Republicans than Colorado. Still, their laws are not far different. Both states have legalized marijuana and have few gun control laws. Furthermore, they have also banned smoking in public places.
  2. Washington is another sparsely populated state that borders Canada on this list. Their demographics are also similar, although Colorado has a higher percentage of Latinos and a lower percentage of Asians. They are also both more affluent than most states. Their residents tend to do more exercise than most other states. Both states tend to favor Democrats. They both allow recreational marijuana and have very favorable laws for immigrants. However, Washington has a lot of coastline, while Colorado is landlocked.
  3. Oregon is yet another state to the northwest of Colorado on this list. Its culture is not far different from Oregon’s. Their people tend to be more active than most other states, doing more exercise and watching less television. Both states have high rates of drug usage and alcohol consumption as well. Their laws are also similar. They have few restrictions on abortion and firearms, while the possession of marijuana is legal. However, Oregon gets more rainfall than Colorado.
  4. Wyoming borders Colorado to the north, so their geography is similar. Both states have many ski resorts and have many beautiful natural parks. However, Wyoming is less densely populated and more rural. Both states do little manufacturing but have many mines. One of the biggest differences is that Wyoming heavily favors Republicans, while Colorado has been a stronghold of the Democratic Party. Still, both states have relatively few restrictions on guns and vary rarely implement the death penalty.
  5. New Mexico borders Colorado to the south. The Rocky Mountains run through both states. However, New Mexico has some significant differences from Colorado. It has far more Spanish-speakers and people with Mexican heritage. It is also less affluent than Colorado. Far fewer people have cable television and more people live in poverty. Still, they both primarily get their electricity from a mix of gas and coal power plants. They are also similar politically as well. Both states are relatively liberal and have passed many laws protecting civil rights.

The five least similar states to Colorado are all located in the Southeastern region of the United States. These states were once part of the Confederacy. They also have more conservative governments than Colorado, since Republicans are favored in these states. Furthermore the five least similar states all get more rainfall and have warmer climates. These states are also more densely populated than Colorado. These states have a much higher percentage of Blacks and lower percentage of Whites as well.

Top 5 States Least Similar to Colorado

  1. Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans of any state. In addition, it is a very conservative state that rarely votes for Democrats. Furthermore, its geography is quite different from Colorado since it has few mountains and it is not landlocked. It is also one of the poorest states and has the fewest amount of cars per capita. Its people tend to watch more television and less exercise.
  2. Alabama is another extremely conservative state on this list. It is quite similar to Mississippi. Alabama is one of the most religious states and has a far higher percentage of Baptists than Colorado. Its climate is significantly hotter than Colorado’s as well. However, Alabama is more mountainous than Mississippi or Louisiana, since part of the Appalachian Mountains run through the northern portion of the state.
  3. Louisiana is far less mountainous than Colorado and has far more coastline. Louisiana also gets the most rainfall of any state. It has a far higher percentage of people with African ancestry than Colorado. Its people tend to be less wealthy and less educated. It has one of the busiest seaports in the country, while Colorado is landlocked. Still, interestingly enough, most of Colorado’s land was part of the Louisiana Purchase.
  4. South Carolina is yet another Southern state on this list. It is one of the original thirteen colonies, while Colorado became a state almost 100 years later. In addition, South Carolina has far more mobile homes than Colorado. Furthermore, it is primarily powered by nuclear energy, while Colorado relies on fossil fuels. It is also one of the most conservative states in the country.
  5. Florida‘s geography is the opposite of Colorado. It has a lot of coastline and does not have any mountains, since most of its land is near sea level. Furthermore, its climate is much hotter than Colorado’s, since it is much further to the south. Because of these differences, its flora and fauna is significantly different as well. Florida also has a higher percentage of elderly people and a lower percentage of White people. 

Colorado is like if Montana was more like California

According to the Index, Montana is the most similar state to Colorado. However, these states also have some significant differences. An analysis of the data shows that California has many of the traits of Colorado that Montana lacks. Montana has far less Latinos than Colorado and California. Its people also have a lower income per capita. Both Colorado and California have universities in the Pac-12 and the Mountain West, unlike Montana. In addition, these states are more liberal and favor the Democratic Party more than Montana.

Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Colorado

All data accurate as of 2020.

California Similar States Graph

State Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Washington
Most Similar Culture: Oregon
Most Similar Government: New Mexico
Most Similar Infrastructure: Utah
Most Similar Geography: Wyoming

Least Similar Demographics: Mississippi
Least Similar Culture: Mississippi
Least Similar Government: South Carolina
Least Similar Infrastructure: Vermont
Least Similar Geography: Florida

Do you agree with the list?
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