Liz Mair worked for the not-yet-a-campaign presidential campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) for just over a day when her tweets disparaging the Great State of Iowa prompted enough of a backlash that she resigned, however willingly. The problem isn't really what Mair said; we've probably said worse, albeit not while working for a 2016 candidate. Instead, the problem was that it disparaged Iowa, a state that in presidential politics is like a made man in "Goodfellas." Before you could touch Iowa, you had to have a good reason. And you better get an okay, or you'd be the one who got whacked.

Mair got whacked.

As a public service to those who work for or plan to work for a presidential candidate, we developed a metric we call The Insultability Index. It ranks each state on the extent to which you can mock that state without repercussions. We looked at four metrics:

- Primary (pri): Where the state falls in the presidential primary calendar, on average. (It's adapted from this story.)
- EV (ev): The number of electoral votes the state offers.
- Partisanship (part): How partisan the state is, measured by the margin of victory for Obama or Romney in 2012 as a distance from the national margin.
- Population (pop): How many people live in the state.

Each state had its position on each metric ranked from first to fifty-first (because of D.C.) and the values calculated according to this formula.


The full rankings are in the table below (with the rank out of 51 states/D.C. in parentheses).


The states that you simply shouldn't insult are those with a higher score on the Insultability Index. They're ones that mix relatively early primaries, lots of electoral votes, and swing state-ness. So at the top of the list are Georgia and Florida -- big states that weigh in heavily. Michigan, Arizona, Minnesota, and Iowa round out the top six. Mair messed with the wrong state.

You can see all of scores below. At the very bottom are small, partisan states that vote late in the primary process: West Virginia, Montana, and, of course, DC, which is small and you already know how it will vote.

State Insultability Primary EV Partisanship Population
1 Georgia 334 12.8 (8) 16 (8) 11.7 (17) 10,097,343 (8)
Florida 334 19.8 (19) 29 (3) 3 (8) 19,893,297 (3)
3 Michigan 326 15.5 (14) 16 (8) 5.6 (11) 9,909,877 (10)
4 Arizona 325 8 (4) 11 (14) 12.9 (18) 6,731,484 (15)
5 Minnesota 324 11.5 (5) 10 (18) 3.8 (10) 5,457,173 (21)
6 Iowa 311 1.8 (1) 6 (30) 2 (6) 3,107,126 (30)
7 Washington 308 15.2 (13) 12 (13) 10.9 (15) 7,061,530 (13)
8 Missouri 301 12.8 (7) 10 (18) 13.2 (20) 6,063,589 (18)
9 Ohio 298 29.7 (31) 18 (7) 0.9 (2) 11,594,163 (7)
10 Colorado 296 17 (16) 9 (22) 1.5 (3) 5,355,866 (22)
11 Virginia 291 27.8 (29) 13 (12) 0 (1) 8,326,289 (12)
South Carolina 291 6.8 (3) 9 (22) 14.3 (24) 4,832,482 (24)
13 New Hampshire 280 3 (2) 4 (39) 1.7 (5) 1,326,813 (42)
14 Massachusetts 278 14.8 (12) 11 (14) 19.3 (30) 6,745,408 (14)
15 Nevada 274 14.7 (11) 6 (30) 2.8 (7) 2,839,099 (35)
16 Illinois 264 30.2 (33) 20 (5) 13 (19) 12,880,580 (5)
17 Pennsylvania 263 43.7 (43) 20 (5) 1.5 (4) 12,787,209 (6)
18 California 253 32.7 (34) 55 (1) 19.2 (29) 38,802,500 (1)
19 New York 252 25.2 (26) 29 (3) 24.3 (38) 19,746,227 (4)
20 Tennessee 243 18.8 (18) 11 (14) 24.2 (37) 6,549,352 (17)
21 Wisconsin 237 33.5 (35) 10 (18) 3.1 (9) 5,757,564 (20)
22 Maine 235 14.5 (10) 4 (39) 11.4 (16) 1,330,089 (41)
23 Texas 234 35.5 (38) 38 (2) 19.6 (31) 26,956,958 (2)
24 Maryland 233 20.8 (20) 10 (18) 22.2 (34) 5,976,407 (19)
25 North Carolina 231 45.2 (44) 15 (10) 5.9 (12) 9,943,964 (9)
26 Connecticut 228 22.5 (21) 7 (27) 13.5 (21) 3,596,677 (29)
27 Delaware 206 14 (9) 3 (44) 14.8 (25) 935,614 (45)
28 Louisiana 202 25.2 (25) 8 (25) 21.1 (32) 4,649,676 (25)
29 New Jersey 198 47 (47) 14 (11) 13.9 (22) 8,938,175 (11)
30 North Dakota 193 12.8 (6) 3 (44) 23.5 (35) 739,482 (47)
31 Indiana 191 45.8 (45) 11 (14) 14.1 (23) 6,596,855 (16)
32 Oklahoma 189 17.2 (17) 7 (27) 37.4 (47) 3,878,051 (28)
33 Alaska 179 15.8 (15) 3 (44) 17.9 (28) 736,732 (48)
34 Mississippi 177 30.2 (32) 6 (30) 15.4 (26) 2,994,079 (31)
35 Oregon 169 46.2 (46) 7 (27) 8.2 (14) 3,970,239 (27)
36 New Mexico 165 38.7 (39) 5 (36) 6.3 (13) 2,085,572 (36)
37 Alabama 144 41.5 (41) 9 (22) 26.1 (41) 4,849,377 (23)
38 Rhode Island 142 25.3 (27) 4 (39) 23.6 (36) 1,055,173 (43)
39 Utah 139 27.3 (28) 6 (30) 51.7 (50) 2,942,902 (33)
40 Kansas 133 35.5 (37) 6 (30) 25.5 (39) 2,904,021 (34)
41 Hawaii 130 25 (24) 4 (39) 38.9 (48) 1,419,561 (40)
42 Vermont 122 23 (22) 3 (44) 31.7 (45) 626,562 (50)
43 Idaho 117 29.5 (30) 4 (39) 35.6 (46) 1,634,464 (39)
44 Arkansas 112 43.5 (42) 6 (30) 27.6 (43) 2,966,369 (32)
45 Wyoming 110 24.3 (23) 3 (44) 44.7 (49) 584,153 (51)
46 Kentucky 106 51.3 (50) 8 (25) 26.6 (42) 4,413,457 (26)
47 South Dakota 96 38.8 (40) 3 (44) 21.9 (33) 853,175 (46)
48 Nebraska 80 48.3 (49) 5 (36) 25.6 (40) 1,881,503 (37)
49 Montana 77 55.3 (51) 3 (44) 17.5 (27) 1,023,579 (44)
50 West Virginia 74 47.8 (48) 5 (36) 30.6 (44) 1,850,326 (38)
51 D. C. 69 33.7 (36) 3 (44) 79.8 (51) 658,893 (49)

One last note. If you're studying this table because you're trying to sincerely figure out which states you can insult without damaging your campaign, maybe you shouldn't be working in politics.