Here are the most surprising moments from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's rambling speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa on Nov. 12. The candidate spoke for more than an hour to an audience at Iowa Central Community College. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

In one of the weirdest attempts to neg in history, political pick-up artist Donald Trump asked a group of voters in Iowa why Iowans were so dumb as to favor Ben Carson over him.

After attempting to demonstrate how difficult it would be to have a stabbing prevented by a belt buckle (if you haven't been paying attention to this election and this makes no sense to you, first, God bless you and, second, it's a long story), Trump expressed bemusement at the idea Carson could be believed. "How stupid are the people of Iowa?" he asked, as our Jenna Johnson reported.

Well, we can answer that. Not stupid at all. In fact, Iowa is one of the smartest states in America.

This is necessarily hard to figure out, of course, given that "stupid" is inherently contextual and subjective. In order to figure out how smart each state was, we looked at objective measures we had at our disposal. Specifically:

  1. IQ, as estimated by Virginia Commonwealth's Michael McDaniel in 2006
  2. 2015 SAT scores, compiled by The Post
  3. 2015 ACT scores, via the company that administers the tests
  4. The percentage of college graduates in the state, compiled by the Census Bureau

To create an intelligence score, we determined the percentage-point difference between a state's score and the national median score. Then, since IQ seemed to be the most on-the-nose metric, we doubled that value and then added it all up.

The results? Iowa is the eighth-smartest state, behind, in order: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Kansas and Vermont. Donald Trump's home state of New York came in 17th. The bottom five states were Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada and, in the 50th spot, Hawaii.



This table is sortable.

Rank State Score IQ deviation SAT deviation ACT deviation College grad deviation
47 Alabama -21.9 -5.1 4.1 -10.3 -5.5
37 Alaska -11 -1.8 -3.8 -0.9 -2.7
41 Arizona -16.2 -3.4 -0.1 -6.6 -2.7
36 Arkansas -9.9 -3.3 8.7 -4.2 -7.8
34 California -6.9 -5.3 -3.9 5.6 2
10 Colorado 19.5 0.7 11.8 -2.8 9.1
4 Connecticut 26.4 2.2 -2.5 14.6 9.9
29 Delaware -0.6 -0.4 -11.9 10.3 1.8
46 Florida -21.5 -2.4 -7.7 -6.6 -2.4
38 Georgia -13.5 -2.8 -6.6 -1.4 0.1
50 Hawaii -27 -5.2 -5.2 -13.1 1.7
35 Idaho -8.8 0.5 -11.7 6.6 -4.7
15 Illinois 16.2 -0.9 16 -2.8 4.8
32 Indiana -3.8 0.8 -5.2 3.8 -4
8 Iowa 21.5 2.3 13 4.2 -0.3
6 Kansas 22 1.9 12.6 2.8 2.8
31 Kentucky -2.9 -1.4 12.6 -6.1 -6.6
43 Louisiana -18.7 -5.5 7.9 -8.9 -6.7
19 Maine 8.3 2.5 -10.4 13.6 0.1
20 Maryland 8.1 -1.1 -5.9 6.6 9.6
1 Massachusetts 35.3 3.4 -0.1 14.6 14
21 Michigan 7.6 -0.3 15.1 -5.6 -1.3
2 Minnesota 32.8 2.8 14.5 6.6 6.1
48 Mississippi -22.4 -6.6 10.3 -10.8 -8.7
16 Missouri 15.8 0.1 14.4 1.9 -0.7
22 Montana 7.4 2.5 6.6 -4.2 0
12 Nebraska 18.5 1.4 13 0.9 1.8
49 Nevada -23.4 -4.3 -6.1 -1.4 -7.3
3 New Hampshire 27.5 3.3 0.8 14.1 6
9 New Jersey 20.4 1.9 -2.1 8.9 9.8
40 New Mexico -15.9 -5.1 4.5 -5.6 -4.6
17 New York 12.3 -0.1 -5.4 11.3 6.6
42 North Carolina -16.8 -0.6 -4.8 -10.8 0
14 North Dakota 16.9 2.9 15.3 -3.3 -0.9
18 Ohio 10.2 0.9 6.7 3.3 -1.6
30 Oklahoma -2.1 -1.5 9 -2.8 -5.3
27 Oregon 2.3 0.3 -0.5 0.9 1.3
26 Pennsylvania 5.8 0.6 -4.4 7.5 1.5
27 Rhode Island 2.3 -1.3 -5.2 8.5 1.6
45 South Carolina -19.4 -2.4 -7.1 -4.2 -3.3
11 South Dakota 19.2 1.9 12.9 2.8 -0.3
33 Tennessee -5.8 -3.1 10.9 -7 -3.5
39 Texas -14.4 -0.8 -9.2 -1.9 -1.7
24 Utah 6.1 0.2 10 -5.2 0.9
7 Vermont 21.8 2.9 0.1 10.3 5.6
13 Virginia 17.7 1 -1.3 8.5 8.5
23 Washington 7 1 -3.7 5.2 3.5
44 West Virginia -19.1 -2.1 -3.3 -2.3 -9.3
5 Wisconsin 22.2 2 14 4.2 0
25 Wyoming 6 1.5 11.8 -5.2 -3.6

It's very important to note that the metrics we used have a lot of built-in bias. Questions have been raised about racial bias in the SAT and IQ testing. What's more, college is more accessible to people of higher economic status. (There's a slight correlation between the final scores and the percentage of the state that is white, but not a terribly strong one.) Given how hard it is to identify objective metrics of intelligence, we worked with what we had.

One very good way not to figure out how smart a state is is by judging its early-primary polling. If you're Donald Trump, the stupidest conceivable position for a Republican voter is to support someone else. But that is about as subjective an analysis as you can imagine. By any other metric, Iowa's interest in voting for someone besides the New York real estate magnate is a decision being made by a pretty smart state.