Today in questions you didn't ask but are damn well getting the answers to, a Public Policy Polling survey ranked the 50 U.S. states by popularity among voters nationwide. And while Hawaii placing No. 1 in this little popularity contest wasn't a shock, that the Golden State ranked last was.
Though a serious polling outfit, Public Policy Polling occasionally has some fun by asking oddball questions. These are the folks who, for example, told us that God only had a 52 percent approval rating. This time respondents have been asked, over the past four months, "Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the state of [ ]?" Responses for all 50 states, which we plotted in the chart above, were released today.
Some highlights: Tropical Hawaii had the highest margin of favorability with 54 percent of voters saying they liked the state and only 10 percent disliking it (+44). It was followed by a distant second Colorado (+35), then Tennessee (+34) and South Dakota (+34), and then Virginia (+32). Voters only had a negative impression of five states: Utah (-3), Mississippi (-6), New Jersey (-7), Illinois (-10), and last and yes, least, California (-17).
"There's not really any sort of discernible pattern," Public Policy Polling's Dustin Ingalls told us over the phone. But he did posit a few explanations for some states. Illinois was unpopular with Republicans and was likely dragged down in its overall ranking by its association with Barack Obama. The president's birthplace seemed to be spared though: "Hawaii makes some sense since it's a popular vacation destination." Black voters disliked 10 of the 14 states PPP called Southern, accounting for Mississippi's low rank. (At Nos. 44 and 45, Deep South Alabama and Louisiana didn't fare too well, either.) And though Ingalls wouldn't say, we think the bad public perception of the Garden State can be explained here.
As for poor California? "A lot of Republicans really, really dislike California," Ingalls said. "They associate it with the liberal Hollywood elite." And probably gay marriage and reefer madness, we'll add. GOPers dinged America's largest state with only 12 percent for to 68 percent against. Illinois and Massachusetts went 15-44 and 19-47 among Republicans.
We suggest for their own sake Republicans spend some time with the Mamas & Papas.