Mapping the 2 Most Similar States to Each US State

relationships between similar states usa map

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar American states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. It weighs equally five major aspects of states: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The methodology is exactly the same for each state.

The data from the State Similarity Index was used to cluster American states into a connected web of states, since the data reveals the relationship of states to each other is more of a gradient than having clearly defined clusters. Therefore, a diagram was created to reveal more intricate linkages between states rather than simply grouping them into regions. The logic of the connected web is as follows: each state is connected to its most similar state and also the next most similar state that is not more similar to the states more similar to the state. 

relationships between similar states usa diagram

Downloadable graphic:

Yet another way to look at the relationships between states is by just connecting the two most similar states to each state. As a result, there are some subtle differences that appear. For example, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina form their own distinct cluster from the rest of the South. Furthermore, unlike the web of connected states, these linkages are presented on a national map.

relationships between similar states usa map

Downloadable graphic:

List of States that Link Two US Regions

From this study, a few states stand out as being transitional states between two different regions of the United States. The map shows these states having connections to two different regions.


The data shows that Missouri is clearly a transitional state between the Midwest and the South. On one hand, Missouri used to allow slavery and racial segregation. No other state commonly defined as in the Midwest allowed it. Its people tend to be more religious than the other states in this region. On the other hand, most of its people do not have Southern accents. It is also located further north than most Southern states, so its climate is not as warm.


Like Missouri, Oklahoma is another transitional state between the Midwest and the South. Like many Midwestern states, especially in the Great Plains, it fairly flat and the bulk of its land is used for agriculture. Like most Southern states, its people tend to be very religious. The state also has relatively few Catholics. Although it was not a state during the civil war, slavery was once allowed there and racial segregation continued even after the war.


According to the analysis, Virginia has characteristics of both the Northeast region and the South, in part because much of its population lives in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Its people tend to be wealthier and more educated than most Southern states. In addition, it is not as conservative politically. Furthermore, country music is not as popular in Virginia as in most Southern states. Being one of the most northern states in the Southeast region, its climate also tends to be colder.

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