Most Conservative States 2016: A Closer Look

Grave Creek in McIntosh County, Oklahoma. Photo by Thomas and Diane Jones.

Below is a detailed analysis of the New Revere Daily Press’ rankings for the nation’s most conservative states. The rankings were determined by evaluating a variety of factors, including election results, tax burden, and personal/business freedom (or lack of personal/business freedom).

The personal/business freedom score accounted for 50 percent of the total weighted score. In order to determine the personal/business freedom score, we used a number of measures provided by the Cato Institute’s 2016 Freedom in the 50 States report, which can be found here. We did exclude a number of measures in that report, some because of redundancy and others because we felt they were poor measures. For instance, we did not use Cato’s “marriage freedom” score because it is our believe the government should have no role in marriage at all.

The tax burden part of our score accounted for 25 percent of the total score. We relied on WalletHub’s excellent ranking of total tax burden to create our own scores. WalletHub created its rankings by examining property taxes, individual income tax rates, and total sales and gross receipts tax rates. You can read Wallethub’s 2016 ratings here.

The final component (also 25%) of our score is 2012 presidential election results. States that had the most voters for Barack Obama were ranked the lowest. States with the fewest Obama voters were ranked highest. We chose not to use the 2016 election results because of the unique nature of that election. In 2016, many red states voted at higher rates for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton than usual, and many blue states, notably Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, voted for Republican Donald Trump. We believe because this election was so unique, it would skew our results to use the 2016 results in our final analysis.

PHOTO: Grave Creek in McIntosh County, Oklahoma. Photo by Thomas and Diane Jones.

State Conservatism Rankings

RankingStateTotal Points
1Oklahoma190
2Alaska178
3South Dakota178
4Tennessee177
5Idaho174
6New Hampshire167
7Wyoming167
8Florida156
9Indiana144
10Montana142
11North Dakota142
12Alabama140
13South Carolina139
14Colorado135
15Utah135
16Nevada133
17Arizona132
18Missouri132
19Kansas128
20Virginia123
21Iowa122
22Texas122
23Georgia121
24North Carolina120
25Nebraska117
26Arkansas108
27Louisiana104
28Delaware97
29Pennsylvania97
30Michigan91
31Kentucky90
32New Mexico85
33West Virginia85
34Mississippi83
35Washington82
36Wisconsin75
37Oregon72
38Ohio69
39Massachusetts60
40Minnesota52
41Illinois35
42Maine34
43Maryland28
44Rhode Island27
45Vermont27
46Connecticut26
47New Jersey25
48California22
49Hawaii9
50New York7

WalletHub Tax Burden Rankings

Overall RankStateTotal Tax Burden
8Alabama7.41%
1Alaska5.18%
23Arizona8.67%
32Arkansas9.09%
40California9.91%
21Colorado8.49%
46Connecticut10.91%
2Delaware5.91%
7Florida7.22%
16Georgia8.31%
49Hawaii11.86%
13Idaho7.87%
41Illinois10.19%
35Indiana9.18%
34Iowa9.15%
37Kansas9.32%
25Kentucky8.70%
18Louisiana8.43%
47Maine11.13%
38Maryland9.38%
33Massachusetts9.10%
29Michigan8.82%
45Minnesota10.46%
31Mississippi9.06%
14Missouri7.90%
11Montana7.71%
30Nebraska9.04%
17Nevada8.37%
4New Hampshire6.88%
44New Jersey10.38%
24New Mexico8.67%
50New York13.12%
22North Carolina8.66%
27North Dakota8.78%
39Ohio9.48%
6Oklahoma6.95%
19Oregon8.45%
26Pennsylvania8.73%
43Rhode Island10.36%
15South Carolina8.03%
5South Dakota6.94%
3Tennessee6.56%
10Texas7.67%
28Utah8.80%
48Vermont11.13%
12Virginia7.80%
20Washington8.45%
36West Virginia9.19%
42Wisconsin10.32%
9Wyoming7.62%

Customized Cato Institute Freedom Rankings

StateRankingPersonal Freedom Ranking Points (Rank-51)*(-2)
Alabama2356
Alaska592
Arizona1474
Arkansas2944
California494
Colorado1082
Connecticut4512
Delaware3140
Floria886
Georgia2258
Hawaii486
Idaho788
Illinois4414
Indiana396
Iowa984
Kansas1670
Kentucky4120
Louisiana3434
Maine4218
Maryland4610
Massachusetts3336
Michigan2454
Minnesota3728
Mississippi3630
Missouri1866
Montana1768
Nebraska2552
Nevada1180
New Hampshire1100
New Jersey478
New Mexico3042
New York502
North Carolina1964
North Dakota1278
Ohio3532
Oklahoma298
Oregon3826
Pennsylvania2650
Rhode Island4316
South Carolina1572
South Dakota494
Tennessee690
Texas2846
Utah2062
Vermont4022
Virginia2160
Washington3238
West Virginia3924
Wisconsin2748
Wyoming1376

2012 Election Results Rankings

StateRankingObama Vote %
Alabama1038.4
Alaska1541.3
Arizona2144.1
Arkansas636.9
California4459.3
Colorado2851.2
Connecticut4258.4
Delaware4358.6
Floria2550
Georgia2345.4
Hawaii5070.6
Idaho332.6
Illinois4057.3
Indiana1943.8
Iowa3052.1
Kansas737.8
Kentucky737.8
Louisiana1440.6
Maine3956
Maryland4661.7
Massachusetts4560.8
Michigan3654.3
Minnesota3352.8
Mississippi1843.5
Missouri2244.3
Montana1741.8
Nebraska737.8
Nevada3252.3
New Hampshire3152.2
New Jersey4158
New Mexico3552.9
New York4762.6
North Carolina2448.4
North Dakota1138.9
Ohio2650.1
Oklahoma433.2
Oregon3754.5
Pennsylvania2952
Rhode Island4862.7
South Carolina2044
South Dakota1339.9
Tennessee1239
Texas1641.4
Utah124.9
Vermont4967
Virginia2750.8
Washington3855.8
West Virginia535.5
Wisconsin3352.8
Wyoming228

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