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 Dakota
North Dakota is located in the Great Plains region. The most similar states were all once predominately grasslands before being turned into agricultural land. These states are also sparsely populated and not especially mountainous. The four of the top five most similar states are located along the Missouri River. In addition, these states have a high percentage of White people, with German ancestry being the most common heritage.
- South Dakota and North Dakota both became states in 1889. Both populations have primarily German ancestry but also Norwegian ancestry. As a result, there are many Lutherans in these states. In addition, the states have high gun ownership rates and many people with hunting licenses. However, there are more differences than one might expect. Although both states are conservative, North Dakota and South Dakota rarely vote for the same candidates in presidential primaries. In addition, North Dakota has more mining activity. It uses far more energy per capita due to fracking there. Furthermore, their people tend to have different accents.
- Nebraska is directly to the south of South Dakota. Much of the western portion of North Dakota was once part of Nebraska Territory. Most of their largest cities are run by Republican mayors. However, there are still some political differences. Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral legislature. It also has a higher minimum wage than North Dakota and the death penalty is still legal there.
- Iowa is another state that borders Minnesota. Both states have a lot of farmland, but Iowa’s crops are slightly different, since it grows far more corn, and less wheat. The states primarily use both coal and wind power to create electricity. One difference is that the Democratic Party tends to do better in Iowa. It voted for Obama twice. Another difference is that Iowa also has more gun restrictions and has less restrictions on abortion, although both states have banned the death penalty.
- Minnesota borders North Dakota to the east. Both states also border Canada. A large percentage of the people in these states have Scandinavian heritage. Another similarity is that these states get a lot of snowfall. Ice hockey is more popular in these states than in most other states. However, a big difference is that in recent elections Minnesota always votes for Democratic presidential candidates, while North Dakota always votes for Republican candidates. Still, their laws are not significantly different.
- Kansas is much more south than North Dakota so it is warmer and gets less snow. As a result, its people are less interested in ice hockey and more interested in basketball. Still, the states are fairly similar. They are both quite flat states with lots of agricultural land. Both states grow a mix of wheat, corn, and soybeans. In addition, their laws are fairly similar. They have few restrictions on guns, but many restrictions on abortion.
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Top 5 States Least Similar to North Dakota
The five least similar states to North Dakota have higher population densities. They also tend to be more mountainous and also have significantly more coastline. Another big difference is that their populations are more racially diverse than North Dakota. Recently, these states have always voted for Democrats in presidential elections, while North Dakota votes for Republicans.
- Hawaii and North Dakota are two of the least similar states. Hawaii is the opposite of North Dakota 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 North Dakota. Very few Republicans get elected there. In addition, its population of Native Hawaiian and East Asian ancestry is much higher.
- New Jersey is the most densely populated state in contrast to North Dakota. A low percentage of its land is used for farming. They also create electricity differently. New Jersey relies on nuclear power and natural gas, while North Dakota uses coal and wind power. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to landlocked North Dakota. In addition, far fewer Republicans are elected there.
- California is yet another state that borders the Pacific Ocean on this list. California has a far higher percentage of Latinos and Asian Americans than North Dakota. Like Hawaii, its climate is much warmer and its terrain is more mountainous. Furthermore, it is one of the most liberal states in the country. It also has a more than twice as many union members by percentage of the population.
- Massachusetts is far more diverse as well. It has a higher percentage of Asians and African Americans. It also has less people with German and Norwegian ancestry and more Irish and Italians. In addition, it has many immigrants. The state is also wealthier and more educated than North Dakota. Not only do most people live close to the ocean, but it is also much more densely populated. While North Dakota is the state with the second high percentage of males in the country in contrast to Massachusetts. However, both states get a lot of snowfall and enjoy ice hockey.
- Rhode Island is similar to Massachusetts. It is the smallest state by land area. Most of its people live near the coast, in contrast to landlocked North Dakota. It is also quite densely populated, but its rural areas are densely forested, unlike North Dakota. Another difference is that Rhode Island has a higher percentage of Catholics. Still, it is not as mountainous as some of the other states on this list.
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North Dakota is like if South Dakota was more like Minnesota
South Dakota is by far the most similar state to North Dakota, according to the Index. However, Minnesota shares a number of characteristics with North Dakota that South Dakota lacks. People in Minnesota and North Dakota tend to have a higher average income than people in South Dakota. They also have a lower incarceration rate. Furthermore, Minnesota and North Dakota are interested in ice hockey far more than most other states. In addition, unlike South Dakota, these states border Canada.
Full Ranking of States Most Similar to North Dakota
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: South Dakota
Most Similar Culture: South Dakota
Most Similar Government: South Dakota
Most Similar Infrastructure: Nebraska
Most Similar Geography: South Dakota
Least Similar Demographics: New Mexico
Least Similar Culture: California
Least Similar Government: New York
Least Similar Infrastructure: Hawaii
Least Similar Geography: Hawaii