First, I fully admit that these rankings are subjective. I chose certain categories and used certain external rankings, but my choice of which categories to use was relatively unscientific. They are as follows:
Yes/No Questions: The states got one point for a yes and zero for a no, unless otherwise noted.
- Did they go for Kerry in 2004? (Did they fall for Bush again?)
- Did they go for Obama in 2008? (Were they okay with the last eight years?)
- Do they have an MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL team? (Speaks to big cities and something to do.)
- Would I realistically choose to live there?
- Is there some extra special sight worth seeing?
- Do they border a body of water large enough that you can't see the other side?
- Do they have firearm registration laws?
- Do they have laws in place to protect choice if Roe v. Wade were overturned?
- Do they allow same-sex marriage (2 points) or civil unions (1 point)?
Rankings: Via the Census, I chose certain categories. The 1st place state got 5 points, 2nd got 4.9, and so on down to 0.1 points.
- Median Income
- % of Residents with Bachelors Degree or More
- Infant Mortality Rate
- Doctors per 100,000 Residents
- Unemployment Rate
- Poverty Level
- Traffic Fatalities per 100 Million Vehicle Miles
- Mobile Homes, as a % of Total Homes
Feel free to let me know your thoughts about these or your own rankings in the comments. And away we go!
50. Mississippi: 3.1 Points
Mississippi isn't just the worst state, it's the worst by a long ways. It's distance in points from #49 is the second largest difference between any two states. The Magnolia State gets 1 point for bordering the Gulf and... well, there's only one category ranking where they were better than the bottom three and that was in Bachelors Degree+, where they ranked 44th. (Not-so) Fun Fact: 1.4% of infants born alive in Mississippi don't make it to their first birthday.
49. Arkansas: 5.6 Points
Arkansas has a lower infant mortality rate than Mississippi and that's about it. The Natural State ranks in the bottom ten in every other category, but at least it doesn't come in last place (Mississippi came in last place of three of the eight).
48. West Virginia: 7.4 Points
Almost heaven, the Mountain State is not. I don't suggest living here, but if you do, you may enjoy one of their many fine mobile homes. Also, don't expect to have great conversations as fewer than 16% of the residents have completed a four-year college.
47. South Carolina: 8.1 Points
The lowest state that I've spent any appreciable amount of time in, the Palmetto State is not quite as poor or uneducated as many of its Southern friends. It doesn't rank in the top thirty of any category, however. I was once, about five years ago, selling computers at a trade show in Charleston, which is a beautiful city to behold and one of my favorites, when a teacher told us that her school couldn't afford any computers. Any.
46. Kentucky: 9.4 Points
Mammoth Cave National Park is an amazing sight to see and the Bluegrass State has okay health care. Otherwise, it's poor and uneducated. Go see the cave and Churchill Downs and then get the heck out.
45. Alabama: 10.1 Points
Let's call it "Mississippi with jobs". The Yellowhammer State doesn't have much to it, but it does sport the 10th lowest unemployment rate in the country. That, and some other finishes out of the bottom ten (barely) in doctors and traffic fatalities, inches it out of the bottom five states.
44. Oklahoma: 11 Points
Ooooooooo-klahoma where at least they have something to watch. Yes, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now there. That and a top 50% ranking in unemployment rate are enough to push it past Alabama. I found the Oklahoma City National Memorial to be moving, but it's not anywhere close to spectacular. You'll be excited to know that the Sooner State's state drink is milk and its state game bird is the wild turkey. What's wrong with that picture?
43. Tennessee: 12.2 Points
The Titans may be undefeated for now, but the Volunteer State ranks squarely as around the 10th worst state in all of the category rankings. If you get sick, you may be okay, so long as you're more than one year old.
42. Louisiana: 12.9 Points
The Bayou State is right near the bottom in every category except for doctors and unemployment, but it does have the Saints and everything else in New Orleans. Try some of Abita's Purple Haze beer while you're hanging out on Bourbon, it's delicious. Just don't be surprised if you step past city limits and wonder how you ended up in Mississippi.
41. Montana: 13.6 Points
The "best" of our bottom 10 is the Treasure State. Better than average chance of finding a job there (it ranks 8th in the country), but please don't drive there as it ranks last in traffic fatalities. Otherwise, it's just sort of meh and it's a slightly worse version of our #40 state, to which you will be introduced tomorrow. I will say that Montana going blue this year would not have changed its ranking at all. We do love us some Brian Schweitzer though.
Coming up tomorrow: A couple of pretty big surprises, the worst state I'd actually live in, and we'll find out which state has the fewest number of doctors per capita.