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 Washington
Washington is a relatively unique state, located in the Pacific Coast region. Only Oregon, California, and Colorado have a strong similarity to it. The four most similar states are all mountainous states located in the Western United States. The federal government still owns a significant portion of the land in these states. With the exception of California, the vast majority of the people in these states are White. Most tend to favor the Democratic Party.
- Oregon is just to the south of Washington. Until 1853, they were both part of Oregon Territory. Their geography is highly similar. They both border the Pacific Ocean and have a similar climate. In addition, their terrain is quite mountainous. Aside from major cities along the western portions of their states, they are quite sparsely populated. Both states are known for their counter culture. They are also similar politically. Both states have many Democrats and Republicans rarely win statewide election there. As a result, they have liberal laws. Recreational marijuana is legal in both states. However, Oregon is not as wealthy as Washington.
- California is another state that borders the Pacific Ocean. However, California’s climate is warmer. It also has far more Latinos than Washington, although both states have many Asians. Union membership is quite high in these states. Furthermore, a significant percentage of the people in both states rely on public transportation. Since 1992, these states have only voted for Democratic presidential candidates. They both have high minimum wages. One big difference is that Washington has no income tax, while California has high income taxes.
- Colorado does not border Washington, but it does have many similarities. Although Colorado is landlocked, their landscape is similar. Both states are in the Rocky Mountains and they have several national parks. Their people tend to do more exercise than most other states. Their demographics are also similar, although Colorado has a higher percentage of Latinos and a lower percentage of Asians. They are also both more affluent than most states. Like Washington and Oregon, Colorado also has liberal laws. Both states allow recreational marijuana.
- Montana is another state that borders Canada. Both states are sparsely populated, but Montana is landlocked and has a colder climate, since it is not moderated by the ocean. Although Montana almost always votes for Republicans in Presidential elections, Montana has had many Democratic governors and senators in the recent past.
- Minnesota is in the Midwest, but it still has some characteristics in common with Washington. Both states border Canada. They are also both known for progressive politics. Their governments have many laws protecting the civil rights of their citizens. They also voted for the same Democratic candidates in the last 5 contested primary elections. Furthermore, the people in Minnesota and Washington have about the same average income and level of education.
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Top 5 States Least Similar to Washington
The five least similar states to Washington are all located in the Southeastern region of the United States. The governments in these states are far more conservative. They also have a significantly hotter climate than Washington. Furthermore, these states have a higher percentage of Black people and a lower percentage of White people. They were all once part of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
- Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans and very few Asians. In addition, it is a very conservative state that rarely votes for Democrats. Furthermore, its geography is quite different from Washington since it has few mountains and a greater percentage of its land is farmed. It is also one of the poorest states and has the fewest amount of cars per capita. Unlike Washington few people use public transportation as well.
- Alabama is another extremely conservative state on this list. It is quite similar to Mississippi. Alabama is one of the most religious states and has a far higher percentage of Baptists than Washington. Its climate is significantly hotter than Washington’s as well. In addition, the state has far less coastline.
- Louisiana is far less mountainous than Washington, although both states have a lot of coastline. Louisiana also gets the most rainfall of any state. Washington also gets significant rainfall, but some areas of the state have a relatively dry climate. It has a far higher percentage of people with African ancestry and a lower percentage of people with Asian ancestry. The state is also far less wealthy than Washington.
- South Carolina is another Southern state on this list. It is one of the original thirteen colonies. In addition, the state has far more mobile homes as well. Furthermore, it is primarily powered by nuclear energy, while Washington relies on hydropower. It is also one of the most conservative states in the country.
- Arkansas is a landlocked state that borders the Mississippi River. Its population tends to be poorer and less educated than Washington’s. It has a much higher rate of smoking and incarceration as well. Furthermore, the culture in Arkansas is far different. Its people like soccer less than Washington. Arkansas is also far more interested in Country music.
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Washington is like if Oregon was more like Connecticut
Oregon is by far the most similar state to Washington. They are two of the most similar states. However, there are few small differences between them. Connecticut is one state that has some traits of Washington that Oregon lacks. The people in Washington and Connecticut tend to be wealthier and more well educated. Their populations are more racially diverse than Oregon’s as well. In addition, a higher percentage of people in Washington and Connecticut use public transportation, since they have a higher percentage of people living in urban areas.
Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Washington
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Colorado
Most Similar Culture: Oregon
Most Similar Government: Oregon
Most Similar Infrastructure: Oregon
Most Similar Geography: Oregon
Least Similar Demographics: Mississippi
Least Similar Culture: Louisiana
Least Similar Government: South Carolina
Least Similar Infrastructure: West Virginia
Least Similar Geography: Florida