People who live in the West and Midwest tend to have brighter views of their states than residents of states in other parts of the country, according to a new Gallup poll.
Among the 10 states with the largest share of residents who believe theirs is the best or one of the best places to live, only two—New Hampshire and Vermont—are from outside those regions, according to surveys conducted in the second half of 2013. All but one of the bottom states are east of the Mississippi River. All but two of the top 10 are west of the Mississippi. (All “approval” ratings are reflected in the map and chart below.)
It’s hard to say why the geographical difference exists, but Gallup does note that many of the top 10 states are mountainous with cold winters. “In fact, the two states most highly rated by their residents — Montana and Alaska — are among not only the nation’s coldest states but also both border Canada,” Gallup found.
Montanans and Alaskans are the happiest with their states, with 77 percent of residents in each answering affirmatively to the question. Rhode Islanders (18 percent) and residents of Illinois (19 percent) are least pleased with their states. In Illinois, one in four residents also goes so far as to say it’s the worst state in which to live.
A state’s proudest residents generally enjoy a greater standard of living, higher trust in state government, and less resentment of how much they pay in state taxes, Gallup found.