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.
Maryland is at the most southern portion of the BosWash region. The five most similar states to Maryland are located along this highly urbanized swath of land on the Atlantic Coast. Aside from urban areas, these states are heavily forested and have temperate climates. They were all part of the original 13 colonies of the country as well. They tend to have many immigrants and are racially diverse. With the exception of Virginia, these states are also some of the areas where the Democratic Party is the strongest.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Maryland
- Delaware is located to the east of Maryland. It is another state that stayed part of the union, although it was once a slave state. Their people have a similar midland accent. In addition, their agriculture is extremely similar, since both states have about the same percentage of farmland and grow mostly corn and soybeans, although Maryland is more mountainous. However, Delaware is less wealthy than Maryland. In addition, its taxation system is far different, since it has no sales tax, but also laws favorable to corporations.
- New Jersey is another state with a lot of racial and ethnic diversity, however it has a far higher percentage of Italians than Maryland. Their governments are also very similar. Both states have policies favorable to unions and many gun restrictions. They also have well developed transit infrastructure, so fewer people own cars there than the national average. In addition, Maryland and New Jersey have a lot of wetlands and a large portion of their land is close to the Atlantic Ocean.
- Connecticut is another relatively wealthy and highly educated state on the East Coast. Both states have many singles, but also few divorced people. Their population densities are also nearly identical. Both states heavily favor Democrats. The states have always voted for the same presidential candidate since 1980. One difference is that many homes in Connecticut are heated by fuel oil, while homes in Maryland generally uses either natural gas or electrical units, since its climate is milder. While both states have a lot of diversity, Connecticut has fewer African Americans.
- Virginia is the only other state that borders the Chesapeake Bay. Their demographics are very similar, since both states are in the Washington DC metro area. However, unlike other states on this list Virginia was part of the Confederacy. Although Virginia tends to be more conservative than Maryland, the states have voted for all the same presidential primary candidates since 1996. Still, their laws are significantly different. Virginia has more restrictions to abortions, but less restrictions on smoking. Moreover, the death penalty is still legal there. Virginia is also significantly less densely populated than Maryland.
- New York is another state with a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean, although its climate is significantly colder. The states have about the same percentage of White and Asian people, but New York has a higher percentage of Latinos, while Maryland has a higher percentage of Blacks. The average age of the population in New York and Maryland is similar as well. Their people tend to be more interested in basketball and soccer than the rest of the country. Not only do they often vote for Democratic presidential candidates, but they often vote for the same primary candidates as well.
The five least similar states to Maryland are all located to the west of the Mississippi River. They are much less densely populated and have a significantly lower percentage of urban land. These states are also less heavily forested than Maryland. All five states are landlocked, in contrast to Maryland. Furthermore, the Republican Party is more popular in the five least similar states. Maryland is also more racially diverse than these states.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Maryland
- Wyoming is the least densely populated state, after Alaska. It is also landlocked and much drier. Its infrastructure is also quite different from Maryland. Almost all of its electricity is created by coal power plants, while Maryland mostly uses gas and nuclear energy. Wyoming also uses the most electricity per capita of any state, due to a high amount of mining. It has a far higher percentage of owners and hunters as well.
- Idaho is one of the most conservative states. Its laws are far different from Maryland, since it has few gun restrictions and marijuana is still illegal there, even for medicinal use. In addition, photo ID is strictly required for voting there. It also is far less developed. It has some of the slowest internet speeds in the United States and has few physicians per capita.
- Montana is to the east of Idaho. It also has a low population density and is very rural. Its agriculture is also significantly different since it grows mostly wheat and hay. In addition, its people are less educated and they have lower average incomes. However, neither state is especially religious or irreligious. Montana is also slightly less conservative than other states on this list.
- Utah has a majority Mormon population and is much more religious than Maryland. Utah’s population is one of the least diverse in the country. Furthermore, Utah has the highest percentage of married people and families with children, in contrast to Maryland. Its geography is significantly different as well since it is a dry landlocked desert. In fact it is the second driest state after Nevada.
- North Dakota is the second coldest state, after Alaska. It also much flatter and has a far greater percentage of farmland than Maryland, although they both grow mostly soybeans and corn. North Dakota’s demographics are much less diverse than Maryland, but even their white populations have different origins. North Dakota has a far greater percentage of people with Norwegian ancestry and it has more Lutherans.
Maryland is like if Delaware was more like Massachusetts
According to the Index, Delaware is the most similar state to Maryland. However, these states have a few key differences as well. Massachusetts is one state that has many traits of Maryland that Delaware lacks. Since Maryland is in Washington DC’s metropolitan area, it has a higher percentage of college graduates and it also has a higher average income per capita than Delaware. The voting laws in Maryland and Massachusetts are significantly less strict as well. Both states allow voting without an identification. They also restore the right to vote to prisoners upon their release. Furthermore first-cousin marriage is legal in Maryland and Massachusetts, but not in Delaware. In addition, these states have more skyscrapers and a lower percentage of mobile homes than Delaware.
All data accurate as of 2020.
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