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 Nebraska
Nebraska is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. The top most five similar states are all located along the Missouri River. Furthermore, they are all landlocked, sparsely populated, and have most of their land devoted to agriculture. In addition, their population is not especially racially diverse. These five states also tend to favor the Republican Party.
- Kansas and Nebraska are two of the most similar states. Their territories were even created at the same time by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. There is not a big difference between them in any aspect. Still, basketball is more popular in Kansas, due to the strength of the University of Kansas team. It also has a lower minimum wage than Missouri and requires an ID to vote. Another difference is that Kansas has more restrictions on the sale of alcohol.
- South Dakota is another conservative state in the Great Plains, just to the north of Nebraska. Their geography is quite similar. Both states are relatively flat and have a lot of farmland. However, far more people own guns and have hunting licenses in South Dakota. Another difference is that most of South Dakota’s electricity is produced by hydropower, whereas coal is the predominate source in Nebraska.
- Iowa is to the east of Nebraska. Both states have a lot of farmland and tend to grow a lot of soybeans and corn. For the most part, they have a similar climate as well. Their demographics are also alike. A high percentage of their people have German ancestry. One difference is that the Democratic Party tends to do better in Iowa. In addition, Iowa also less restrictions on both gambling and abortion.
- North Dakota is even further to the north of Nebraska. Their demographics are extremely similar, although it has fewer latinos and far more people with Norwegian ancestry. Both states are primarily powered by coal, but also produce a significant amount of wind power. However, a much greater portion of its economy is tied to oil extraction. This has led to the state having a greater percentage of men than Nebraska.
- Missouri is yet another state located along the Missouri River on this list. It is located to the southeast of Nebraska. Both states generally have low taxes. They also have few restrictions on the sale of alcohol. While both states are predominately White, Missouri has a lower percentage of Latinos and a higher percentage of Blacks. Missouri also has more forested land than other states on this list. Still, the predominate crops in both states are corn and soybeans.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Nebraska
Four of the five least similar states to Nebraska are located in the Northeastern portion of the United States. These states all have a significant amount of coastline, in contrast to landlocked Nebraska. Furthermore, their governments have more Democrats in power and as a result, they tend to have more liberal laws. These states are also more densely populated and also have a higher percentage of forested land.
- Hawaii is the opposite of Nebraska in a number of different geographic ways. It is an island in the Pacific Ocean that gets a lot of rainfall. It is also quite mountainous and a far higher percentage of its land is forested. In addition, Hawaii is far less conservative than Nebraska. Very few Republicans get elected there. In addition, its population of people with Native Hawaiian and East Asian ancestry is much higher.
- Rhode Island is one of the most densely populated states in contrast to Nebraska. A low percentage of its land is used for farming. A large percentage of its people live close to the ocean. Furthermore, it has a far higher percentage of Catholics than Nebraska. In addition, far fewer Republicans are elected in Rhode Island. Another difference is that a higher percentage of its people use mass transportation and Amtrak.
- Massachusetts is far more diverse than Nebraska. It has a higher percentage of Asians and African Americans. In addition, it has many immigrants. Its people are also less religious and more educated. Not only do most people live close to the ocean, but it is also much more densely populated than Nebraska. A low percentage of the state’s land is used for agriculture.
- New Jersey is another state that has a far more diverse population than Nebraska. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer people have cars. The national origins of its people are much different than Nebraska as well, since New Jersey’s White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin. Like other states on this list, Democrats are heavily favored in this state.
- New York is yet another state on the Atlantic Coast that has little in common with Nebraska. It has a higher percentage of forested land and is also more densely populated. The state is also more significantly more mountainous than Nebraska. Furthermore, New York’s people tend to be wealthier, since it has many millionaires. A far higher percentage of people in New York use public transportation. It also has far more restrictions on guns than Nebraska.
Nebraska is like the combination of Kansas and South Dakota
According to the Index, the two most similar states to Nebraska are Kansas and South Dakota. Nebraska has characteristics of both states. This is no surprise since it is located in between these states. The culture and demographics of Nebraska are a bit more like Kansas. They have a higher percentage of Latinos and Blacks, but fewer Native Americans than South Dakota. A lower percentage of people in these states have guns and hunting licenses than South Dakota too. However, Nebraska’s politics and geography are a bit more like South Dakota. These states have higher minimum wages than Kansas. They also have less restrictions on the sale of alcohol. Furthermore, Kansas has recently had more Democratic governors and Democratic state supreme court justices than these states. Another difference is that Kansas tends to harvest a greater area of wheat than Nebraska and South Dakota.
All data accurate as of 2020.