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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The States of Our Union ... Are Not All Strong - Margaret Slattery - POLITICO Magazine

The States of Our Union ... Are Not All Strong - Margaret Slattery - POLITICO Magazine

The good news, at least for 5.4 million Americans, is that Minnesota—with improvements in employment, infant mortality and the obesity rate—has nudged its way into a tie for the top spot, giving the Midwest a share of New Hampshire’s repeat No. 1 showing.
Last year, Politico Magazine heralded President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address with an appraisal of the state of the states of the union, which we found, contra that favorite presidential declaration, were not all “strong.” Despite the disgruntled response from those states that ended up at the bottom of the list (including a letter to the editor from the governor of Mississippi himself), we decided once again to run the latest data through our highly scientific, incontrovertible ranking process—inspired, after all, by a 1931 H.L. Mencken magazine series delicately called “The Worst American State.”
Mencken might not have lived in the era of big data, let alone cultural sensitivity. But taking as granted a few of his basic ideas—that education, health and wealth generally make us better off, while crime, unemployment and death do not—we compiled 14 existing rankings of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, using the most recent data available from sources like the Census Bureau, the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then, we averaged out each state’s 14 rankings to come up with a master list.
Yes, I’m sorry to say, the state that Mencken deemed “worst”—Mississippi—again falls last on our list this year. (It is, after all, the poorest and, in some ways, sickest state, as Sarah Varney reported for us last year.) The good news, at least for 5.4 million Americans, is that Minnesota—with improvements in employment, infant mortality and the obesity rate—has nudged its way into a tie for the top spot, giving the Midwest a share of New Hampshire’s repeat No. 1 showing.
 
D.C., Maine and Maryland saw the biggest rises in the ranks, each going up six spots, while Wyoming, one of the few states with a higher unemployment rate this year versus last, saw the biggest drop, from 6 to 16. That’s still much higher than Mencken’s rank of 30. So there’s hope for all.
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Overall rank (1 = best)

RankStateGovernor
1MinnesotaMark Dayton (D)
1New HampshireMaggie Hassan (D)
3VermontPeter Shumlin (D)
4UtahGary Herbert (R)
5ColoradoJohn Hickenlooper (D)
6MassachusettsCharlie Baker (R)
7IowaTerry Branstad (R)
8MainePaul LePage (R)
9WashingtonJay Inslee (D)
10New JerseyChris Christie (R)
11MontanaSteve Bullock (D)
12NebraskaPete Ricketts (R)
13ConnecticutDannel Malloy (D)
13MarylandLarry Hogan (R, elect)
15North DakotaJack Dalrymple (R)
16WyomingMatthew Mead (R)
17WisconsinScott Walker (R)
18VirginiaTerry McAuliffe (D)
19HawaiiDavid Ige (D)
19IdahoButch Otter (R)
21South DakotaDennis Daugaard (R)
22KansasSam Brownback (R)
23AlaskaBill Walker (I)
23PennsylvaniaTom Wolf (D)
25OregonJohn Kitzhaber (D)
26DelawareJack Markell (D)
27IllinoisBruce Rauner (R)
28Rhode IslandGina Raimondo (D)
29New YorkAndrew Cuomo (D)
30OhioJohn Kasich (R)
31CaliforniaJerry Brown (D)
32IndianaMike Pence (R)
33MissouriJay Nixon (D)
34MichiganRick Snyder (R)
35TexasGreg Abbott (R)
36ArizonaDoug Ducey (R)
37North CarolinaPat McCrory (R)
38FloridaRick Scott (R)
39NevadaBrian Sandoval (R)
40District of ColumbiaMuriel Bowser (D, mayor)
41New MexicoSusana Martinez (R)
42KentuckySteve Beshear (D)
43GeorgiaNathan Deal (R)
44OklahomaMary Fallin (R)
45West VirginiaEarl Ray Tomblin (D)
46South CarolinaNikki Haley (R)
47AlabamaRobert Bentley (R)
48TennesseeBill Haslam (R)
49ArkansasAsa Hutchinson (R)
50LouisianaBobby Jindal (R)
51MississippiPhil Bryant (R)

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