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.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Florida
Florida is a fairly unique state, only Georgia has a high degree of similarity. Since it is a peninsula at the southern most portion of the continental United States, it has unique geography. It also has unique demographics, since it has an old but relatively diverse population. The top five states all border the Atlantic Ocean and usually get a lot of rainfall. These also states tend to have conservative laws, since they are often governed by Republicans. They were all once part of the Confederacy as well.
- Georgia is just to the north of Florida. Both states grow peanuts and cotton, but also have a significant amount of orchards as well. Nowadays, many people are moving to Atlanta from other parts of the country, similar to Florida. They both have a greater interest in football than most other states. Both states have major universities in both the SEC and the ACC. However, there is a far higher percentage of African Americans in Georgia than Florida. Furthermore, most Floridians do not have a Southern accent, like Georgians.
- South Carolina is just to the north of Georgia. It is another popular beach destination on the Atlantic Coast. Their laws are similar as well. They both have few restrictions on guns and allow capital punishment. However, South Carolina does not have any large metro areas, unlike the other states on this list. In addition, its Latino population is quite small in comparison to Florida. Another difference is that the majority of its electricity is created by nuclear power, while Florida uses mostly natural gas.
- North Carolina is another Southern state with a few different large cities that are more cosmopolitan than its rural areas. Florida and North Carolina have roughly the same average level of education and wealth. Although both states have about the same percentage of agricultural land, North Carolina predominately grows soybeans since its climate is not as warm. It is also more mountainous than Florida, since a significant portion of the state is covered by the Appalachian Mountains.
- Alabama, like Georgia, borders Florida to the north. Both states are especially interested in football. Their people tend to watch a lot of television, although a higher percentage of households in Florida have cable television. Most of their buildings are relatively new, since many Americans have moved to the South in the past decades. However, Alabama is more religious than Florida and has fewer Catholics. Furthermore, although both states border the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama has less coastline than Florida.
- Louisiana is another state that is famous for having a lot of wetlands. Both states are quite flat and get a lot of rainfall. However, Louisiana has a higher percentage of African Americans and a lower percentage of Latinos. Furthermore, many more people have French ancestry there. Still, Florida also has a some French Creole-speaking population due to Haitian immigration there. Their infrastructure is also similar because natural gas is used to create a majority of the electricity in both states.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Florida
It is no surprise that the five least similar states to Florida are located much further to the north. Four of the five border Canada. They are sparsely populated and have much colder weather. Four of the five states are landlocked. While Florida is quite flat and most of its land is close to the sea level, these states are more mountainous and their land is at higher elevations. With the exception of Vermont, they all have a lower percentage of forested land than Florida.
- Alaska is in the extreme northwest corner of the United States, in contrast to Florida, so its climate is much colder. In addition, Alaska has the highest mountain in North America, while Florida is incredibly flat. One thing they both share is that they are both peninsulas. They are also both relatively conservative states, although Alaska does not allow either capital punishment or life imprisonment. Alaska has a much higher percentage of Native Americans.
- Wyoming is landlocked, mountainous, and has a cold climate, in contrast to Florida. It is also much less developed. Furthermore, Wyoming uses far more water and electricity per capita than Florida. Mining is a large part of the economy, in contrast to Florida. In addition, Wyoming’s population is not nearly as diverse. It has very few African Americans and Latinos. Although both states favor Republicans, Wyoming is more conservative.
- Vermont is the only state in the Eastern Time Zone on this list. It is a rural, landlocked, and mountainous state. It has no major cities. It is also far less diverse than Florida. It has one the highest percentages of White people in the country. Furthermore, Vermont is far more liberal and less religious than Florida. Marijuana is legal and the state is much more friendly to unions. While Florida has bases for every branch of the military, Vermont has no miltary bases. However, both states do have many elderly people.
- North Dakota is mostly farmland, in contrast to Florida. It is also the second coldest state, after Alaska. The state is much less diverse than Florida. It has far fewer Latinos and Blacks. In addition, a high percentage of its people have German and Norwegian ancestry, unlike Florida. While gun ownership in both states is high, a much larger percentage of North Dakotans have hunting licenses.
- Montana is yet another sparsely populated state that borders Canada on this list. A high percentage of its land is either farmland or grassland. Montana’s population is also far less diverse than Florida’s. Its people are predominately White and the state has an extremely low percentage of Blacks. However, the laws in these states are not far different. Both states have slightly more Republicans than Democrats in their state legislatures.
Florida is like if Georgia was more like Hawaii
Georgia is by far the most similar state to Florida. However, there are some big differences between these states as well. The data shows that Hawaii has many characteristics of Florida that Georgia lacks. Hawaii and Florida are well known tourists destinations due to their beautiful beaches. Both have significantly more coastline than Georgia and also warmer climates. These states also have little manufacturing output. Furthermore, the people in Hawaii and Florida tend to be less religious than Georgians.
All data accurate as of 2020.