To determine the best- and worst-run states, 24/7 Wall St. collected data in three major categories: financial position, economic outcomes, and social outcomes. We averaged the rank of each data point to create a meta rank ranging from 1-50. All data points received equal weight.
They did not, however, provide any information concerning the political affiliation of those states. I thought our readers might be interested in knowing this. But first, the top five best and worst-run states.
The top five best-run states, in order: North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota
The top five worst-run states, in order: Illinois, New Mexico, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Arizona
And now, to the political party affiliations. North Dakota’s entire executive branch is made up of Republicans, and both houses of its legislature are controlled by Republicans. Wyoming and Nebraska are the same—both solidly Republican. Iowa is mixed, but more Republican. Minnesota is the most Democratic of the top five best-run, but its state House (which would control legislation for spending) is currently controlled by Republicans. So at least from economic data, the best-run states tend to lean Republican. What about the worst-run states?
Illinois is solidly Democrat in its state legislature, only recently electing a Republican governor. New Mexico leans Democrat, though it is more mixed. Mississippi is solidly Republican. Rhode Island is solidly Democrat. Kentucky is a mixed bag (centrist), and Arizona is solidly Republican.
So what does this mean, exactly? Not much. It seems that neither party is immune from error, and that neither party can guarantee economic success. It is more likely that a best-run state will be controlled by Republicans, but that doesn’t mean that being Republican will automatically turn you into a best-run state. Just look at Mississippi and Arizona.
There are other factors at play here. For instance, independence from federal control is a big issue in state politics, and most of the southern states (no matter how Republican they may be) can’t escape the federal controls that hang over from the days of Reconstruction. Also, the vagaries of economic opportunity are at play here. There is little that state governments can do to bring jobs to a production wasteland (in any short time), and, on the other hand, there is little a state government can do to wreck peculiarly robust economies.
At the end of the day, I thought it was an interesting, though inconclusive, survey.