Story at a glance

  • A recent YouGov survey asked respondents to rank the 50 American states as well as the District of Columbia.
  • Hawaii, Colorado and Virginia topped the list, while D.C. came in dead last.
  • The survey also ranked the five best states in the country.

If first is the worst and second is the best — what’s 51st? In a comparative ranking of the best states in the country, the only one that wasn’t a state came in dead last (coincidence?). 

In a YouGov poll of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the nation's capital was ranked the worst, with Alabama and Mississippi tied for second worst and a three-way tie between Iowa, Arkansas and New Jersey for third worst. As D.C. fights for statehood, its poor reputation could be getting in its way among lawmakers in Congress. 


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The survey asked respondents to pick the better of two states in a series of head-to-head match-ups and the bottom five won less than 40 percent of the time - compared to the winner, Hawaii, and runner-up, Colorado, which both won more than two-thirds of the time. Panelists did not explain the reasons for their choices, but YouGov noted that Alabama and Mississippi, both southern states (as were most of the bottom 10), are often ranked low in assessments of income and health care access.

As states reopen, many are fighting for tourism dollars as Americans decide where to travel first. Here are the five worst U.S. states (plus one not-state) to consider visiting: 

  1. District of Columbia (35 percent of matchups)
  2. Alabama (38 percent of matchups)
  3. Mississippi (38 percent of matchups)
  4. New Jersey (39 percent of matchups)
  5. Arkansas (39 percent of matchups)
  6. Iowa (39 percent of matchups)

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Published on Apr 14, 2021