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 Virginia
Virginia is a state in the Southeastern region, but it has some traits of states in the Northeast region as well. The four of the five most similar states were part of the original 13 colonies of the United States. They all allowed slavery and segregation in the past too. The Appalachian Mountains run through the five most similar states as well. With the exception of Tennessee, they all border the Atlantic Ocean.
- North Carolina borders Virginia to the south. Their demographics are quite similar. However, Virginia has a higher percentage of Asians. Both states have a lot of military personal and also many different military bases. These states have recently voted for most of the same presidential primary candidates as well. North Carolina and Virginia also have few people that are members of a union. However, one big difference is that North Carolina is not as wealthy and far more of their people own mobile homes.
- Maryland is the only other state that borders the Chesapeake Bay. Their demographics are very similar, since the suburbs of Washington DC are in both states. However, unlike other states on this list, Maryland was not part of the Confederacy. The states have voted for all the same presidential primary candidates since 1996, although Maryland has less conservative laws. It has less restrictions on abortion, and more restrictions on smoking. Moreover, the death penalty is not legal there.
- Georgia is much farther south than Virginia, so its climate is significantly warmer than Virginia’s. Still, these states have many similarities as well. They have a similar percentage of gun owners and people with hunting licenses. Both states do not ban smoking in public settings. Another similarity is that both states predominately use natural gas and nuclear power to create electricity.
- South Carolina is yet another state on the Atlantic Coast on this list. Both states were original colonies. However, South Carolina favors Republicans significantly more than Virginia. Another difference is that its people are not as wealthy and less well educated on average. Unlike the other states on the list, it does not have any major metro areas.
- Tennessee is to the southeast of Virginia. Their demographics are fairly similar. They have about the same percentage of Blacks, although Virginia has a slightly higher Latino population. Even though they have a similar percentage of high school graduates, Virginia has a significantly higher percentage of people with college degrees. In addition, these states have a relatively high rate of incarceration and a low rate of union membership.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Virginia
The five least similar states to Virginia are all located to the west of Mississippi. They became part of the United States much later than Virginia. Furthermore, most of these states are less densely populated. With the exception of Hawaii, forests cover less than 50% of the land in these states. Another difference is that these states have a much lower percentage of Blacks than Virginia.
- Alaska‘s climate is far colder than Virginia and it gets more snowfall. The state is also less densely populated and has a much lower percentage of agricultural land. Although both states are mountainous, Alaska’s peaks are significantly higher. It is one of the newest states, while Virginia is an original colony. The state also has a much larger Native American population than Virginia.
- Wyoming is a sparsely populated, landlocked state. Wyoming’s infrastructure is especially different from Virginia. The state uses far more energy per capita. Furthermore, it has much lower density of roads and railroads. It also has little racial diversity. Few minorities live there. Its electricity is mostly powered by coal, while Virginia’s two biggest sources are natural gas and nuclear energy.
- Hawaii‘s demographics are also far different from Virginia, since most of its people have East Asian or Native Hawaiian ancestry. It has a tropical climate, since it is much further to the south. Its people tend to be more liberal and tolerant. Hawaii was the last state to become part of the United States, while Virginia was one of the first. However, both states are mountainous and have a significant amount of coastline.
- Montana is another state with an extremely low population density on this list. It also has a colder and drier climate. Furthermore, it is landlocked. It is also less diverse than Virginia, since the vast majority of its people are White and few minorities live there. The state has a higher percentage of high school graduates, but a lower percentage of people that completed college and have advanced degrees.
- North Dakota is a colder landlocked state located in the Great Plains, known for its grasslands and farmlands. Virginia is significantly more mountainous and has a higher percentage of forested land. North Dakota’s economy is largely based on agriculture and fossil fuel extraction. Virginia’s economy, on the other hand, is more diversified and includes a strong technology sector, with many defense contracting and government jobs.
Virginia is like if North Carolina was more like Maryland
According to the Index, North Carolina is the most similar state to Virginia. However, there are some ways in which Virginia has characteristics more like Maryland. For example, Virginia and Maryland have higher percentages of college graduates and individuals with advanced degrees compared to North Carolina. They also have higher average incomes and a lower percentage of mobile homes. This is partly due to their proximity to the Washington DC metropolitan area. Additionally, these states generally have cooler climates compared to North Carolina.
All data accurate as of 2020.