States Ranked Based on Patriotism

July 1st 2016

Kyle Jaeger

It's pretty much impossible to define or quantify patriotism because the word means different things to different people. Still, this new study from WalletHub makes a valiant effort, ranking each state's patriotism based on its civic and military engagement.

WalletHub determined how patriotic each state was by measuring 12 metrics, including the percentage of residents who are enlisted in the military, the number of veterans and Peace Corps volunteers, and the voter turnout rate. The site relied on data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Defense Department.

Here's WalletHub's map of the most and least patriotic states in America.

patriot map

Virginia came out on top. New Jersey proved least patriotic. And Southern states consistently ranked higher on the patriotism scale, largely because these states have the highest levels of military engagement. (Military enlistment rates accounted for 25 percent of the overall ranking.)

"[Few] states score high on both measures," The Washington Post reported. "Red states tend to score higher on military engagement, while blue states tend to score a little higher on civic engagement. Minnesota, for example, ranks first on voter turnout but 48th on military enlistments. Alaska ranks second on military enlistments but 49th on voter turnout."

Here are the five most patriotic states.

1. Virginia

2. Alaska

3. South Carolina

4. Colorado

5. Georgia

And here are the five least patriotic states. 

46. Illinois

47. Rhode Island

48. New York

49. Connecticut

50. New Jersey

Let's get philosophical here. What is patriotism, really? It's a subjective question that requires a leap of faith when it comes to quantifying it on a state-by-state level. If you ask Americans whether they feel patriotic, however, you get some interesting results. The Pew Research Center did this in 2011 and discovered a generational "patriotism gap."

"When Americans were asked if they think the United States is the greatest country in the world, there were sharp differences in the responses across generations," Pew reported. "In total, 48 percent of Americans believe the United States is the greatest country in the world, and 42 percent believe it is one of the greatest countries in the world, but a significant portion of the Millennial generation responded differently."


That's right. Millennials are significantly less likely to declare that the U.S. is the "greatest country in the world." Only 32 percent of Millennials surveyed in 2011 agreed with that statement, compared to 50 percent of baby boomers and 64 percent of those in the so-called Silent Generation. Asked whether they felt "very patriotic," only 70 percent of Millennials said "yes." (The average was 85 percent across the generational spectrum.) 


RELATED: Why Your American Flag Might Be Less Patriotic Than You Think