Correction: Story on 'Worst States To Live In' Was Based on Old Data


Earlier today I posted a story here titled, "Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island Top List of 'Worst States To Live In,' But Why?"

The piece was mostly based on an article in The Daily Mail that incorrectly used 2013 data from Gallup. As a result, the entire piece is wrong and irrelevant. I regret the error.

Original text:

Gallup recently asked Americans whether they agree that their home state is the "worst possible state to live in." In Illinois, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, nearly a quarter of respondents said hell yes. Such levels of discontent was nearly matched by folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and New Jersey. See your state's result below.

What explains such self-loathing? The worst states include rural places and industrialized (and post-industrial) places; they're also geographically, meteorologically, and demographically mixed. They're rich (New Jersey) and poor (Mississippi). None is western, but Nevada and New Mexico are nipping at their heels. When you look at the happiest states (or, more accurately, the states whose residents were least likely to piss on themselves), you find a similarly wide spread. Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Maine register only 1 percent to 2 percent of malcontents. Some of these states (Texas, North Dakota) are going gangbusters in terms of jobs but others (Maine, Wisconsin) are not. Many (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado) are Mountain West, with all that confers, but others are frigid, semi-apocalyptic landscapes (Minnesota, North Dakota).

As The Daily Mail reports, confusion reigns in a list of the country's 25 happiest metro areas as well (see full list after the jump). California tops the rankings, with eight cities in the list, but otherwise does kind of meh in overall state-level happiness. Texas manages to place only one area (Austin-Round Rock) in the top 25. Colorado is well-represented by three metro areas that almost certainly account for a majority of the state's population.

Another Gallup poll, one that links "satisfaction with life" and political ideology, might shed some light on the disjunctures. Over the past year, Gallup reports, self-identified Republicans think things are going much better in America than they used to. Fully 90 percent of Republicans are somewhat or very satisfied with "overall quality of life" these days, compared to 76 percent of Democrats. And what a difference a year makes: In 2017, the Republican number was 74 percent while the Democrat number was 85 percent. That kind of maps on to many of these results. Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York are anti-Trump bastions that are also taking the exclusion of state-and-local taxes on the chin. Many of the happier states went red in the last election too.

But there's certainly no simple, convincing explanation for any of the "worst possible state to live in" results. When it comes to whether it's morning or mourning in America, partisanship seems the likely culprit. Gallup notes that aggregate opinions about quality of life, the ability to get ahead, the fairness of income distribution, and the moral climate of the country haven't changed much at all (between just 3 percentage points or less on each topic). But when you look at how Democrats and Republicans view these things, huge swings are evident. For instance, Republicans are nine points more likely to say we are a moral country today than a year ago while Dems are 14 points less likely to do so. Dems are in a funk while conservatives are giddy these days.

And where are libertarians or independents (who make up 40 percent of the electorate) when it comes to all this? Gallup doesn't bother to ask, so you'll have to let us know in the comments.

Gallup/Daily Mail

Gallup/Daily Mail

Here is the list of America's "25 Happiest Cites," based on "an index to measure a population's happiness based on 15 metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthful food options."

  1. Boulder, CO
  2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
  3. Charlottesville, VA
  4. Fort Collins, CO
  5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA
  6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  7. Provo-Orem, UT
  8. Bridgeport-Stamford, CT
  9. Barnstable Town, MA
  10. Anchorage, AK
  11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL
  12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA
  13. Salinas, CA
  14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
  15. Urban Honolulu, HI
  16. Ann Arbor, MI
  17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  18. Colorado Springs, CO
  19. Manchester-Nashua, NH
  20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
  21. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  23. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  24. Portland-South Portland, ME
  25. Austin-Round Rock, TX