Where Michigan ranks among states, according to Americans (better than Ohio)

Survey reveals bias for home state, warm weather

View of a section of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore park and fog-obscured Lake Michigan beyond, Michigan, November 2013. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images) (Interim Archives, Getty Images)

Here’s something fun today:

How is Michigan rated when Americans are asked head-to-head questions about the 50 states?

Better than Ohio, and perhaps that’s all that matters.

US states ranked from best to worst

This seems nearly impossible, right? Not to mention the bias that will alter the outcomes. But the good people at YouGov gave it a go, and we appreciate the effort:

Methodology: 1,211 US adults were asked to choose the better of two states from a list of the 50 US states and Washington, D.C. in a series of head to head match-ups. The poll’s introductory text stated, “On each of the next few pages, you will see the names of two states in the US. On each page, we would like you to select the state that you think is the better state. You will see 7 different match-ups between states.” On each page, they saw two states with the prompt: “Which of the following states is better?” Each respondent saw seven match-ups, and no respondent saw a state twice. Data was weighted to be nationally representative of all US Adults, 18+. The survey was conducted between March 12 - 15, 2021.

“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.”

As for the home state bias, here’s how that played out:

Prior to the survey, YouGov asked respondents, “Regardless of where you live now, which state do you consider yourself to be from?” and also “Regardless of where you are from, which state do you live in now?” Americans chose their home state 77% of the time it was shown, virtually the same as how often they selected their current state of residence (79%).

About one-third of Americans report currently living in a state other than their home state. These people selected their home state 70% of the time, with people living in their home state saying it is better in 81% of matchups.

How Michigan did

The Great Lakes State came in at No. 20 on the list with a win percentage of 53.7%. We’ll take it! Again, at least we’re not Ohio -- a terrible No. 33 on the list with an embarrassing win percentage of 45%. Sheesh.

Here’s the full list:

YouGov said Hawaii, which is well-known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather, took the top spot by winning 69% of its matchups. With its scenic mountains, hiking paths, and recreational marijuana industry, Colorado took second place with 65% of matches won. Good for them.

We, of course, think Michigan deserves a much higher ranking based on the Great Lakes alone. There is no other state in this nation with as much scenic lake shore. Our winters are just as beautiful as our summers. And the spring is as welcomed as the fall in the Mitten State. Yes, we have bias, but our feelings are genuine.

How did Michigan rank lower than Virginia? Come on now. Sure, the Atlantic Ocean is nice (kind of). That salt water can be nasty, let’s be real. And sharks? Hurricanes? Who needs that. We’ll take a day out on the boat on the gorgeous Lake St. Clair -- not even close to our best lake. We have so many.

Americans seem to have warm weather bias, and that’s a shame. They’re missing out on places such as Sleeping Bear Dunes (pictured above), the Au Sable River, and the entire Upper Peninsula, but perhaps we should be thankful for this. Sure, we’ll always welcome more money from tourism (another data set we’ll cover here when we return to more serious programming), but let’s enjoy our underrated gems without too much attention.

At least we’re not Ohio -- that can’t be stressed enough.