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 Minnesota
Minnesota is a Midwestern state located in the Great Lakes region. The five most similar states tend to have rather cold winters and get significant snowfall. They have a lot of agricultural land, but also historically many factories as well. Manufacturing workers are often part of unions in these states. In addition, a high percentage of the people in most of these states are White.
- Wisconsin is by far the most similar state to Minnesota. In fact, it is the most similar in demographics, culture, infrastructure, and geography. Their ethnic compositions are quite alike. Both states have a high percentage of people with German ancestry, but also Norwegian ancestry as well. They also have relatively many Hmong immigrants. Both states have lots of lakes, nearly the same percentage of farmland, and a similar climate. In addition, Minnesota and Wisconsin favor Democrats, although Wisconsin is more conservative.
- Iowa is just south of Minnesota. A majority of the territory in both states was annexed by the Louisiana Purchase. Both states have many married people and very few single parent households. They also enjoy some of the lowest homicide rates and highest home ownership rates in the country. However, Iowa is more conservative and has a much higher percentage of farmland. Another difference is that Iowans are less interested in ice hockey.
- Michigan is another state that borders Lake Superior. It is typically a stronghold of the Democratic Party, like Minnesota and Wisconsin. Despite this neither Michigan nor Minnesota have laws that are especially favorable to immigrants, since they are not sanctuary states and do not allow undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Both have a similar percentage of farmland and grow nearly the same crops. Even their electricity comes from the same source. Both mostly use a mix of coal, nuclear, gas, but also wind power. They are also both relatively flat. One big difference is that Michigan has much more coastline.
- Illinois is to the east of Iowa. Since it has Chicago, its population is more diverse and urbanized. Illinois has far more single people and single parent households. Still, on the presidential level, recently both states have always voted for Democrats. Neither state has stringent voter ID laws and both have many laws to protect civil rights. Their average incomes are nearly the same. In addition, the states also have similar circumcision rates.
- North Dakota is to the west of Minnesota. Both states have a high percentage of Lutherans and people with Scandinavian heritage. Ice hockey is especially popular in these states as well. However, one big difference is that North Dakota is more rural. As a result their people favor the Republican party much more than people in Minnesota. It also has a higher percentage of agricultural land.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Minnesota
Minnesota is one of the most Northern states in the United States, so it is no surprise that the five least similar states to it are located much further to the South. As a result, their climate is significantly warmer. With the exception of Hawaii, these states tend to have more conservative laws than Minnesota and tend to favor Republicans more often. Another difference is that the White people in these states have a significantly lower percentage of Scandinavian ancestry.
- Hawaii is also quite different from Minnesota, despite the fact that both states tend to be liberal. Still, their geography is almost completely different. Minnesota is cold, quite flat, and has many lakes. In contrast, Hawaii has a tropical climate, many mountains, and very few lakes. Furthermore, Hawaii has a high percentage of Asians and a low percentage of White people. Their infrastructure is quite different as well. Minnesota has no military bases, while Hawaii has a military base for all 5 branches of the armed services. In addition, nearly 100% of Minnesota’s water is fluoridated, while Hawaii has the lowest percentage in the United States, at about 10%.
- Florida is another state that has tropical regions, like Hawaii. Still, both states are fairly flat. However, Florida is much more densely populated. It has a higher percentage of Latinos, many of whom immigrated from Cuba and Puerto Rico. Florida also has more conservative laws. Although both states are relatively flat and have many lakes, Florida has a significantly higher percentage of forested land.
- Arizona is a landlocked state that borders Mexico. Most of the state is desert and a low percentage of its land is used for farming. In addition, the state is much more mountainous than Minnesota. Their demographics are quite different as well. Arizona has a much higher percentage of Latinos than Minnesota. Its people tend to be more religious than Minnesotans as well.
- Nevada has the driest climate in the country, while Minnesota has an abundance of lakes. While a high percentage of Minnesota’s land is used for agriculture, most of Nevada is barren desert. Nevada is also more mountainous than Minnesota. Furthermore, like Arizona, Nevada has a much higher percentage of Latinos. While both states have significantly mining operations, Minnesota mines more iron, while Nevada mines more gold and silver.
- South Carolina is another Southern state on this list. Unlike the others, it has a longer colonial history and was one of the original 13 states. Minnesota and South Carolina’s politics are especially different. Not only does South Carolina tend to support Republicans, even in primary elections, the states do not often vote for the same candidates. In 2016, Minnesota voted for Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders, while South Carolina voted for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It also has a high military enlistment rate, unlike Minnesota.
Minnesota is like if Wisconsin was more like Colorado
According to the Index, Wisconsin is by far the most similar state to Minnesota. However, the data shows that Colorado has a few characteristics of Minnesota that Wisconsin lacks. A large portion of both states was originally part of the Louisiana Purchase. Colorado and Minnesota also less densely forested and less densely populated. These states have a significantly higher percentage of college graduates as well. They are also slightly wealthier on average as well and have higher minimum wages. In addition, Colorado and Minnesota have more Democratic justices on their state supreme courts.
All data accurate as of 2020.