America’s Most and Least Average States

Methodology: Race and ethnicity data taken from US Census Bureau; religious affiliation data taken from Pew Research Center; voting data taken from US Federal Elections Commission. Within each category, each state’s demographic composition was compared to that of the entire country. States with less variation from the national composition scored higher (more average). The composite score is the average of the three category scores. Category groupings for race and ethnicity include: Hispanic (any race), Non-Hispanic White, Non-Hispanic Black, and Non-Hispanic Other. Category groupings for religious affiliation include: Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, Black Protestant, Catholic, Other Christian, Other Religion, and Unaffiliated. Categories for political affiliation include: Democratic, Republican, and Other. (Party affiliation determined by averaged results of presidential elections 2004-2016.)

Metropolitan States of America

The 50 states (+DC) redrawn such that no metropolitan area crosses state lines

Methodology: I used Designated Market Areas (DMAs) as opposed to Census-defined metropolitan areas, as the Census-defined areas are non-contiguous and somewhat arbitrary (and also made for a far less interesting map when I tried using them initially). For those unfamiliar with DMAs, you can think of them as clusters of counties that all share the same local news stations. As such, they are a good bit broader than Census Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and generally each incorporate several MSAs as well as non-urban areas. Each “new” state is made up of all counties that make up its DMAs, with the multi-state DMAs being given to the principal city within the DMA.

There are three notable exceptions, as this methodology, strictly followed, eliminates the states of New Hampshire (would be split up between Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont), New Jersey (would be split up between New York and Pennsylvania), and Delaware (would be split up between Maryland and Pennsylvania). Therefore, in order to “preserve” the 50 states as they currently exist, Portland, Maine, has been relocated to New Hampshire, Philadelphia has been relocated to New Jersey, and Salisbury, Maryland, has been relocated to Delaware. I treated Washington, DC, as a state, so it now incorporates the entire Washington metropolitan area. Wyoming was also a bit tricky, with its two regions (Cheyenne and Casper) being non-contiguous and Cheyenne itself being an enclave within the Denver region. So, some editorial decisions were made there. The last caveat is that the Paducah, Kentucky, region was separated from the rest of Kentucky by the intervening Evansville, Indiana, region, and was thus given to Missouri, which is home to Cape Girardeau, the second principal city in the region.

How Much Texas Can You Fit in Dallas-Fort Worth?

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area (“DFW” or “Metroplex”) is now the fourth largest metro area in the US, with 7.5 million residents. The region contains many large suburbs that are relatively unknown outside of the metro, but that are larger than some more well-known towns in Texas that are not part of the DFW metro. This map shows the many municipalities that make up the region, with the large name representing the largest Texas city that could fit within that municipality (without reusing cities) and the smaller name in parenthesis being the actual name of the municipality (for all municipalities with a population of 50,000+).

Hipster Map of the United States (interactive)

For this map, I assigned each county in the United States a Hipster Index, which is the geometric mean of four measures: percentage of population aged 20-34, percentage of population that is Non-Hispanic white, percentage of voters voting Democrat in the 2016 US presidential election, and percentage of workers employed in the arts and entertainment industry.

Cultural Zones of the United States

I always enjoy the US cultural region maps that get posted on reddit, mostly for the ensuing discussion and debate. I’ve always wanted to create my own, but it’s a more daunting task than it might appear at face value. Furthermore, I’m a sucker for objectivity, which is nigh impossible with such an endeavor.

I think the fatal flaws of most such maps are the hard borders (such things do not exist) and the regions that defy simple classification (such as Texas or the Great Basin). The map maker is faced with a choice: either regions that are so broad and sweeping that the final product doesn’t illicit much interest or insight; or a map that is broken down into so many regions that you end up with just a map of metropolitan areas.

To overcome these challenges, I overlaid the most popular such maps (as measured by upvotes on reddit), and took the common denominators. Regions that appeared over and over are colored on this map, and regions that changed identities from map to map have become transition zones.