Photo: YouGov

New Study Attempts to Rank Every State From Best to Worst

News Maps + Infographics
by Eben Diskin Apr 15, 2021

Imagine waking up one morning to discover that you live in the “worst state in the country.” Sorry, Alabama. Designations like “best” and “worst” are undeniably subjective, but that hasn’t stopped YouGov from trying to rank each US state based on a vague perception of its quality. To do it, they tapped unbiased experts who are highly versed in political, cultural, and socioeconomic issues and are well-qualified to comment on each state’s quality of life. Oh, wait — they just asked 1,200 random Americans to fill out a March Madness-style bracket.

map with states ranked, best states ranked

Photo: YouGov

According to YouGov, “We asked people to choose the better of two states in a series of head-to-head matchups. States are rated based on their ‘win percentage,’ that is: how often that state won the head-to-head matchup when it was one of the two states shown.”

So in case you’re dying to know what complete strangers think of your state — strangers who, in all likelihood, have never even been there — YouGov has you covered. In the least surprising news of all time, Hawaii ranked number one, winning a very nice 69 percent of its matchups. Colorado came in second with 65 percent, followed by Virginia, Nevada, and North Carolina.

The 1,200-member brain trust had no love for the South, ranking Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas in the bottom five, with Missouri and Kentucky making an appearance in the bottom 10. Oft-picked on New Jersey was the lowest-ranked state outside of the South at #48, and not-a-state Washington DC was dead last.

The study says that survey respondents tended to favor their home state or current residence. YouGov says that Americans selected their home state 77 percent of the time it was shown, and their current state of residence 79 percent of the time — which would imply that states with larger populations were favored.

Discover Matador