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 Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region. These states have a similar climate and tend to have a lot of agricultural land. The vast majority of the people in these states are White and they have relatively few Latinos. Manufacturing and industry are an important parts of the economy in this region as well. Interestingly enough, the five most similar states to Wisconsin all have major public universities that are part of the Big Ten.
- Minnesota is to the west of Wisconsin. It was once part of Wisconsin Territory, before becoming its own state. Their ethnic compositions are quite alike. Both states have a high percentage of people with German ancestry, but also Norwegian ancestry as well. They also have relatively many Hmong immigrants. Their geography is also similar. Both states have lots of lakes, nearly the same percentage of farmland, and a similar climate. In addition, Minnesota and Wisconsin favor Democrats, although Wisconsin has more conservative laws.
- Michigan and Wisconsin both border Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The states have almost the same percentage of agricultural land and forest area. In addition, they are also very similar politically. Both states favor the Democratic Party, but Trump won both states in 2016. Despite the fact that Michigan and Wisconsin have many union members, both states have passed laws that are unfavorable to unions. Both states have also banned capital punishment and require photo IDs to vote. However, Wisconsin has a far lower percentage of African Americans.
- Iowa does not border the Great Lakes, but they both border the Mississippi River. Iowa also has a much higher percentage of farmland and less forested land. Furthermore, Iowa is more conservative. Still, the states have many similarities. Both states are over 80% White, with primarily German ancestry. They also have relatively few Latinos and African Americans. The states also have about the same median income per capita. Their climates are essentially the same and most homes in both states use natural gas for heating. In addition, both states have not raised the minimum wage higher than required by the federal government.
- Ohio is another Midwestern state in the Rust Belt. Although Ohio has tended to vote for Republicans for president more often than Wisconsin, both of their state legislatures are relatively evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Their infrastructure is also similar. Both states create electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas, coal, and nuclear power and they use about the same amount of electricity per capita. One difference is that Ohio is in the Eastern Time Zone, not Central.
- Illinois is just to the south of Wisconsin. Both states border Lake Michigan. In fact, all of Wisconsin was once part of Illinois Territory. Both states have many singles and few households with children. The states have similar percentages of Protestants and Catholics. The vast majority of the homes in these states are heated using natural gas. However, Illinois does not require a photo ID to vote and has legalized marijuana, unlike Wisconsin. Furthermore, it has less laws restricting abortion. Its population is also more diverse, in large part due to having the Chicago metropolitan area.
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Top 5 States Least Similar to Wisconsin
The five least similar states to Wisconsin are all located to the West of the Mississippi River. In addition, they all have warmer climates. With the exception of Hawaii, these states also have significantly less rainfall as well. Moreover, these states are also more mountainous. They have a far lower percentage of White people than Wisconsin as well. In addition, relatively little manufacturing is done in these states.
- Hawaii is quite different from Wisconsin, despite the fact that both states tend to vote for Democrats in presidential contests. Their geography is quite different. Wisconsin is cold, has many lakes, and no tall mountains. In contrast, Hawaii has a tropical climate, many tall mountains, and very few lakes. Furthermore, Hawaii has a high percentage of Asians and a low percentage of White people. Their infrastructure is quite different as well. Wisconsin only has an army base, while Hawaii has a military base for all 5 branches of the armed services.
- Nevada‘s climate is much drier and has little agricultural or forested land as a result. The state is much less densely populated and also landlocked. Nevada has a much more liberal policy on gambling than Wisconsin as well. Nevada also has far more restrictions on abortion, although both have few restrictions on guns or the sale of alcohol. Furthermore, Nevada has a high Latino population, like California.
- California is another state with quite different demographics from Wisconsin. It has a far higher percentage of Latinos and Asian Americans. In fact, less than 50% of the people there are White. Its climate is also much warmer and it is more mountainous. Despite both states having many union workers, California has more laws to protect unions.
- New Mexico has a much higher percentage of Latinos than Wisconsin, so a much higher percentage of its people can speak Spanish. It is also landlocked and has a hotter and drier climate. It is also much more sparsely populated. Furthermore, New Mexico is not as wealthy as Wisconsin and its infrastructure is not as well developed. Still, both states often vote for Democrats in presidential elections.
- Utah is another landlocked state on this list. Utah’s culture is especially different from Wisconsin since most of its people are Mormons. Since Mormons tend to have large families, it has the lowest average age, in contrast to Wisconsin. Another difference is that people in Utah rarely vote for Democrats, unlike in Wisconsin. Although both states are mostly White, Utah’s people have more English ancestry, while Wisconsin has more people with German and Scandinavian ancestry.
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Wisconsin is like if Minnesota was more like Indiana
According to the Index, Minnesota is the most similar state to Wisconsin. However, these states have some noticeable differences as well. Indiana is one state that has many of the characteristics of Wisconsin that Minnesota lacks. Both Wisconsin and Indiana have economies that are heavily dependent on manufacturing. In contrast, Minnesota has a more diverse economy, with strong sectors in healthcare, education, and technology. Minnesota’s people tend to be more educated than Wisconsin and Indiana as well. Furthermore, Wisconsin and Indiana are more politically conservative than Minnesota. Both have voted for a Republican presidential candidates and senators in recent elections.
Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Wisconsin
Most Similar Demographics: Minnesota
Most Similar Culture: Michigan
Most Similar Government: Minnesota
Most Similar Infrastructure: Michigan
Most Similar Geography: Minnesota
Least Similar Demographics: Mississippi
Least Similar Culture: Texas
Least Similar Government: New York
Least Similar Infrastructure: Hawaii
Least Similar Geography: Hawaii