clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

We asked readers to define the Midwest. Here's what we learned.

Last month, we asked you to tell us which states make up the Midwest — and more than 34,000 of you responded in a little over 24 hours.

We learned, as expected, that many Vox readers (and staff) have strong opinions about what, exactly, constitutes the Midwest. We learned what states the majority of readers include in their version of the Midwest — and which just barely make the cut (we're looking at you, North Dakota). And perhaps most importantly, we found out which state is the most Midwestern of them all.

Iowa is the most Midwestern state

A whopping 95 percent of 34,522 Vox readers thought the Hawkeye State was in the Midwest, closely followed by Illinois. Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri are also indisputably Midwestern. Agreement begins to get tricky right around Nebraska, which heads the next cluster of states, including Michigan, Ohio, and Kansas, followed by the two Dakotas.

The Dakotas are in the Midwest — barely

The Great Plains — North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska — were clearly the most controversial part of this experiment. North Dakota captured 45.8 percent of total votes, and South Dakota got 53.6 percent of all votes (a result that should make our culture editor Todd VanDerWerff quite proud).

But there's another way to crunch the numbers where both Dakotas do end up in the Midwest, fair and square. If Iowa is the most Midwestern state, then I think it's fair to set the total number of its votes as a baseline for maximum Midwesternness. If you use that as your total, then both states make the cut.

Sorry, Oklahoma. You are not in the Midwest.

Being around the middle of the US geographically is not a guarantor of Midwesternness. We had 18 percent of readers pick Oklahoma as part of the Midwest — way lower than neighboring Kansas right above it. It's about 19 percent as Midwest as Iowa.

Most voters cared about the Midwest too much to troll us

If you picked a coastal state, you were most certainly a troll. But surprisingly, the number of people who selected California as a Midwestern state was pretty low — only 53 votes out of 34,522. What's remarkable is that as long as a reader selected a state with a little distance from a coastline, you still get a pretty fair approximation of the Midwest.

What the Midwest looks like, according to some people

What the Midwest looks like, according to some people. (Soo Oh/Vox)

You can use the map below to check out how likely voters were to pick a state based on other states they selected.

Our data is available on Github.