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 North Carolina
North Carolina is a Southeastern state. The most similar states were all part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Appalachian Mountains also runs through these states. Furthermore, the most similar states to North Carolina have a predominately White population, but also a large percentage of Blacks. Most people in these states are quite religious and a vast majority of them are Protestant. These states also tend to have more conservative laws as well.
- South Carolina shares the same name as North Carolina, so it is no surprise they are quite similar. They were actually part of the same British province until they split in 1712. Their people tend to have a similar accent. Both states have a high percentage of mobile home owners. In addition, union membership is extremely low in these states. However, South Carolina’s laws are more conservative. It has more restrictions on abortion and less restrictions on smoking than North Carolina.
- Georgia is yet another state on the Atlantic Coast. Their demographics are very similar, although Georgia has a lower percentage of White people and a higher percentage of Black people. Their people tend to have a similar accent as well. In addition, union membership is extremely low in these states. Both states favor Republicans, but they have recently become swing states.
- Virginia is just to the north of North Carolina, so it has a slightly cooler climate. Still, these states have many similarities. Both states have a lot of urban areas. Their people are among the wealthiest and most educated in the Southern region. Both states have a lot of military personal and also many different military bases. However, Virginia has become more moderate politically in recent years. Democrats more often win state-win races there.
- Tennessee was once part of North Carolina’s territory. The two states share a border at the Great Smokey Mountains. They are also at about the same latitude. However, Tennessee is landlocked and more mountainous. Their demographics are also quite similar, except that Tennessee has fewer minorities. Both states require photo IDs to vote, have similar abortion laws, and do not allow undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses.
- Alabama does not border North Carolina, but these states still have a lot in common. About one quarter of the people in both states are Black. Their average age is similar as well. Both states rely on a mix of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power to create electricity. However, Alabama has slightly higher rates of both gun ownership and hunting licenses. Another difference is that people tend to be less interested in basketball in Alabama than in North Carolina.
Top 5 States Least Similar to North Carolina
The five least similar states to North Carolina are all located to the west of the Mississippi River. While North Carolina was one of the original colonies, these states were some of the last to become part of the United States. They have a significantly lower Black population. With the exception of Hawaii, these states are also much less densely populated than North Carolina.
- Hawaii and North Carolina both have hot and humid climates and a lot of coastline, but their similarities largely end there. While North Carolina was one of the original colonies, Hawaii was the 50th state added to the nation. Their demographics are far different as well. Hawaii has by far the highest Asian population in the United States and has relatively few Black people. It is also one of the most liberal states and Democrats are heavily favored there, in contrast to North Carolina.
- Alaska‘s climate is far colder and has more snowfall than North Carolina. The state is also the least densely populated and has a much lower percentage of agricultural land. Furthermore, it is one of the newest states, while North Carolina is an original colony. The state also has a much higher percentage of Native Americans. However, both states do tend to be run by Republicans and have more conservative laws.
- North Dakota is much colder than North Carolina. It also has a much higher percentage of farmland. A higher percentage of its people are Lutheran and Catholic. Furthermore, although both states are mostly White, A large percentage of North Dakota’s population has German and Norwegian ancestry, unlike North Carolina. North Dakota also produces a much greater amount of energy, due to the oil boom in the state.
- Wyoming is another extremely sparsely populated state on this list. Like North Dakota and Alaska, it is also much colder than North Carolina. Its climate gets less rainfall on average as well. Wyoming’s demographics are far less diverse than North Dakota’s, since it has few minorities. However, the laws in these states are not extremely different.
- Utah is yet another landlocked state on this list. While North Carolina gets a lot of rainfall, Nevada is one of the the driest states. Another huge difference is that most people in Utah are Mormon. As a result, it also has the youngest average population in the United States. Furthermore, Utah tends to do more mining and less manufacturing than North Carolina.
North Carolina is like if South Carolina was more like Virginia
According to the Index, South Carolina is the most similar state to North Carolina. However, it is located between South Carolina and Virginia, so it is not surprising the data shows Virginia has some traits of North Carolina that South Carolina lacks. These states have lower smoking and drug use rates than South Carolina. They also have lower suicide and homicide rates. A lower percentage of their people have guns and hunting licenses. In addition, basketball tends to be more popular in North Carolina and Virginia than South Carolina. In the last few decades these states have often had Democratic governors, unlike South Carolina. Furthermore, since South Carolina is further south, it has a warmer climate.
All data accurate as of 2020.