Patriotism, simply put, is the love of country. Some would add that patriotism puts country before political party and goes beyond flag-waving and symbolic gestures. Researchers have used a variety of measurements to understand patriotism and determine which states in America are the most patriotic. They focused on a combination of military enlistment totals, the number of veterans in the state, voter turnout numbers, jury participation, membership in civic organizations, and volunteering to make their determination.
When it comes to choosing political leaders, a majority of the eligible voting population of New Hampshire shows up. A study used 2016 numbers for voter participation to determine patriotic rankings. New Hampshire ranked third in voter turnout. The state also gets high marks for civics education, teaching school-age residents about the importance of political and community life. Around 36% of New Hampshire residents volunteer. Although the state ranked on the lower side for military engagement issues and jury participation, it took the number one spot for patriotism due to its higher civic rankings.
When Wyoming was still a territory, long before it became an official state, it was the first place in the U.S. to allow women to vote. Today, Wyoming ranks fifth among politically active states, second for civic engagement, and ninth for military engagement. This combo of high rankings earned the state its second-place rating among the most patriotic states in the U.S. Wyoming ranks fifth on the list for most veterans per capita, which contributed to its high military engagement rankings.
While some states struggled to get voters to the polls in 2016, Idahoans voted in droves, with more than 710,000 eligible voters casting a ballot in the general election. Idaho ranked 10th in volunteering in 2018, with around 34% of its population participating in local groups or organizations. These numbers led to a high civic engagement rating for the state. Idaho also ranked 10th on the list for best states for military retirees, based on its economic environment, health care availability, and quality of life rankings. The combined military engagement and civic engagement scores pushed it to the number three slot for patriotism.
Listed fourth among the most patriotic states, no other state has a higher military engagement ranking than Alaska. Its veterans comprise about 10.7% of the population, the largest number of veterans per capita than any other U.S. state. The state’s nine active military bases have about 6,000 personnel. More than 400 residents volunteered through Senior Corps and AmeriCorps projects in 2019, which pushed Alaska’s civic engagement numbers higher.
The state that played a significant role in the country’s founding and was also the site of the first American railroad takes the fifth slot for patriotic states. Maryland’s high ranking is rooted in its civic engagement. More than 5,100 residents participated in some type of volunteer service in 2019 in a variety of capacities, from fighting the opioid epidemic to working in food banks to crime reduction. The state tops the list for veteran job opportunities but slips when it comes to the availability of quality health care for military personnel and veterans.
The Beehive State landed at number 6 on the list of most patriotic states in America. Historically, Utah is at the top of the list for political engagement, political contributions, and voter accessibility policies. And in 2016, it had one of its highest voter turnouts ever. Volunteering is also big in Utah, with 4,200 people sharing their free time to help others, boosting it to number one for the highest volunteer rates. Utah’s veteran populations and military enlistment totals are among the smallest in the country, leading to it being 38th on the list for military engagement.
While the military doesn’t have a strong presence in The Peacegarden State, North Dakota did earn fifth place for civic engagement, primarily for high voter turnout in 2016. These numbers helped boost the state to number seven on the patriotic state list. Volunteer numbers aren’t the highest in North Dakota, however. Around 200 people served in organizations like AmeriCorps or the Senior Corps in 2019. Less than 1% of the state’s population enlists in the military, and 8% of its population are veterans, which led to its ranking of 31st in military engagement.
The Badger State earned a respectable 8th place ranking as one of the country’s top patriotic states. While it scored a low 42nd for military engagement, Wisconsin earned second place for its civic engagement. Volunteerism is thriving across the state. The Milwaukee metro area ranked 4th in the nation in 2017 for volunteer efforts, with more than 44% of its citizens donating their time to help others. Wisconsin also had the second-highest number of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election.
With one of the lowest numbers of military enlistees, Minnesota landed at number 47 on the list for military engagement. In 2018, there were only 597 active military personnel across the state, and around 7% of its population are veterans. While Minnesota may not be known for its military presence, it does have one of the largest volunteer rates in the country. These numbers, along with high voter turnout for the 2016 general election, helped the state achieve an overall ranking of ninth on the patriotism scale and fourth for civic engagement.
Ranked third for the number of military enlistees, South Carolina contributes more than 50% of its eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-old population to military service, which is the highest in the nation. The state also has one of the largest veteran populations at 9.3%. These numbers landed South Carolina with a third-place ranking for military engagement and helped propel it to number 10 among the country’s most patriotic states.