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 Wyoming
Wyoming is a Western state in the Rocky Mountain region. They five most similar states are all landlocked and sparsely populated as well. These states are some of the least diverse in the nation, with a vast majority of their people being White. With the exception of Colorado, their governments are generally dominated by the Republican Party and therefore have few gun restrictions.
- Idaho‘s demographics and culture are extremely similar to Wyoming. Both states are predominately White with mostly German and English ancestry. They also both have around 7% Latinos. Wyoming was actually part of Idaho Territory for a short period in its history. Although the states are also alike politically, a photo ID is not required to vote in Wyoming. It also spends much less per capita on education and health care spending. Another difference is that Wyoming relies on coal to create electricity, while Idaho uses mostly hydropower. Idaho and Wyoming are also the states that use the most water per capita. They also have some of the highest home ownership rates in the country.
- Montana is located to Wyoming’s north, but their climates are quite similar. Both states get little rainfall, but a significant portion of snow. Despite being so far west, most of their water flows east, towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Montana’s demographics are also similar to Wyoming and Idaho, however it has a lower percentage of Latinos. The economies of both states also rely on mineral extraction.
- Colorado borders Wyoming to the south, so their geography is similar. Both states have many ski resorts. However, Colorado is more densely populated and less rural. Furthermore, Colorado favors Democrats, while Wyoming has been a stronghold of the Republican Party. Still, both states have relatively few restrictions on guns and vary rarely implement the death penalty.
- South Dakota is to the east of Wyoming. In fact a large portion of Wyoming was once part of Dakota Territory. The states have nearly the same education level and average age. Both states have many people with hunting licenses and also have a low drug usage rates. They are also similar politically, but one big difference is that marijuana is legal in South Dakota. Their geography is somewhat different. It is has a far higher percentage agricultural land. In addition, it has a significantly higher percentage of surface water area.
- Utah‘s demographics are quite similar to Wyoming’s except that they have far less Mormons and far more people with English ancestry. Both states have very few immigrants. These states also have some famous ski resorts. While both states are incredibly scenic and have many national parks, Utah’s climate is significantly drier.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Wyoming
The five least similar states to Wyoming are all located in the Northeastern portion of the United States. These states also all border the Atlantic Ocean. They are more densely populated and have a much more diverse population. These states also have a much higher percentage of forested land. Their climates are not nearly as dry as Wyoming’s. Furthermore, the five least similar states have far more Democrats in their government than Wyoming.
- New Jersey and Wyoming are two of the least similar states. New Jersey is the most densely populated state and Wyoming (with the exception of Alaska) is the least densely populated state. New Jersey’s population is also very diverse, while Wyoming is predominately White, with German ancestry being most common. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to landlocked Wyoming. In addition, very few Democrats get elected in Wyoming, unlike New Jersey.
- Massachusetts is more diverse than Wyoming. It has a higher percentage of Asians and African Americans. In addition, it has many Chinese, French, and Portuguese speakers. Its people are also far less religious. Massachusetts is the most highly educated state, in contrast to Wyoming. It is also far more densely populated and most of its people live in urban areas.
- Rhode Island has the highest Catholic population of any state, in contrast to Wyoming. Rhode Island is the smallest state by land area and is also much more densely populated than Wyoming. Furthermore it is far less mountainous. A large percentage of its land is urban and close to the coast. Rhode Island also relies on natural gas to create electricity, while a majority of Wyoming’s electricity is created by coal power plants.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Very few people have guns or hunting licenses, in contrast to Wyoming. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer have cars. The national origins of its people is much different than Wyoming, since New York is much more diverse and its White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin and has a much lower percentage of people with German ancestry.
- Connecticut is quite similar to many other states on this list. Their infrastructure is far different. Connecticut uses natural gas and nuclear power to create electricity, while Wyoming primarily uses coal. It also uses the most electricity per capita of any state. Little mining is done in Connecticut, in contrast to Wyoming. Another difference is that Wyoming has a higher percentage of gun owners and hunters than Connecticut.
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Wyoming is like if Idaho was more like Montana
Idaho is the most similar state to Wyoming, however they have some differences. Montana is one state has a few attributes in common with Wyoming that Idaho lacks. Idaho has a much larger Mormon population than Wyoming or Montana. These states also have a higher median age and a higher average income as well. Wyoming and Montana both have larger mining industries than Idaho too. Furthermore, they are less densely populated. These states have vast areas of high plains, which are characterized by their flat terrain and grassy landscapes, unlike Idaho.
Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Wyoming
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Iowa
Most Similar Culture: Idaho
Most Similar Government: Idaho
Most Similar Infrastructure: Montana
Most Similar Geography: Montana
Least Similar Demographics: New York
Least Similar Culture: Massachusetts
Least Similar Government: New York
Least Similar Infrastructure: Massachusetts
Least Similar Geography: Florida