As if you needed any more proof that Americans see everything through the lens of politics these days.
A new survey of Americans’ perceptions of the 50 states reveals a sharp divide along political-affiliation lines — even though the survey had nothing to do with politics.
YouGov, an international internet-based market research and data analytics firm, presented 1,211 adults with a series of head-to-head state matchups. Participants were shown the names of two states and told to simply pick which state they felt was better. Each saw seven matchups, and none saw the same state twice.
The concept of “better” wasn’t defined by YouGov. It was up to the participants to decide what that meant. And for a lot of folks, apparently, “better” has something to do with voting habits.
States that typically vote blue — Washington included — tend to be very well-liked among Democrats, and equally disliked by Republicans.
Of course, the reverse is true as well. States that typically vote red elicit warm feelings among Republicans, and get the thumbs down from Democrats.
Overall, Washington ranked as the 15th best state. In head-to-head matchups, we came out on top 56% of the time. But, unsurprisingly, there was an enormous gap in how the state fared among Democrats and Republicans.
Among Democrats, Washington beat its competition 67% of the time, ranking seventh highest among the states. But among Republicans, Washington only won 34% of its matchups, placing the Evergreen State at a dismal 45th.
I’m wondering if some of my liberal readers might feel a little slighted that we didn’t rank a bit higher than seventh among Democrats. But it turns out, regardless of political affiliation, the most popular states are ones with sunshine, palm trees and sandy beaches.
Democrats’ No. 1 choice was Hawaii, choosing the Aloha State as the winner in 80% of its head-to-head matchups. And Republicans’ top pick was Florida, with an 82% winning record against competing states.
Republicans still like Hawaii pretty well, ranking it 18th. And Florida was also in the top half for Democrats, in 21st place.
In the overall rankings, Hawaii came out on top, and Florida was third. Colorado — another blue state — sneaked in at second place.
In addition to Hawaii and Colorado, the states that Democrats nationwide prefer to Washington are: California, Oregon, Virginia and New York.
And among Republicans, only five states (plus Washington, D.C.) are more odious than Washington: Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and California.
While Washington had one of the biggest likability gaps in the survey, no state is more polarizing than — you guessed it — California. Democrats love the Golden State, ranking it second best behind Hawaii. And Republicans hate it, ranking California 50th.
Oregon had the second-largest gap between Democrats and Republicans, followed by Kentucky and Alabama. Washington was fifth.
Republicans and Democrats can agree on at least one thing: They don’t like Ohio very much. Among Republicans, the Buckeye State won only about 43% of its matchups. Among Democrats, it won about 46%. That’s a gap of just three percentage points, the smallest among the states.
Deep-red Arkansas came in last place for Democrats, winning just 25% of its matchups. It did a lot better among Republicans, but still not that great, ranking 26th.
Among Republicans, the highest-ranking state that went for President Joe Biden in 2020 was Arizona. Supporters of former President Donald Trump don’t seem to be holding a grudge against the Grand Canyon State, which famously flipped to blue in the 2020 presidential election. Arizona was the No. 2 pick among GOP faithful, after Florida.
For Democrats, the 17 top-ranked states were all won by Biden. The highest-ranking state won by Trump in 2020 was North Carolina, in 18th place.
The survey data also reveals that Americans feel a strong sense of loyalty to the state they’re from, or where they currently live, regardless of politics. Participants chose their home state 77% of the time it was shown in matchups, and they selected their current state of residence 79% of the time.
The survey was conducted March 12-15, 2021, and data was weighted to be nationally representative of all U.S. adults 18 and older.