Saddest states in America: Red and Southern

States that voted for President Obama are among the happiest places to live. A coincidence? Photo: Happy Hawaii at the end of the rainbow - Waikiki AP

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 — Feeling blue? You probably live in a Red, Southern state that didn’t vote for President Obama. Is there a connection?

Maybe not, but it is interesting to note that the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found, after interviewing people across the nation, coast to coast, North to South and everything in between, that those folks who were feeling the most miserable live south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The happiest Americans live in President Obama’s birth state of Hawaii. This is the fourth year in a row that Happy Hawaii has topped the list, and it ranks even happier this year than the year before.

Ten Happiest States

Of the ten happiest states, only three voted for former Gov. Mitt Romney: Montana, Nebraska and Utah. The Blue states were far from having the blues with Colorado almost as happy Hawaii, followed by Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Massachusetts. Notice that all ten states are in the North, whether they are in the West or Northeast.

So how wretched are the unhappiest residents of the bottom ten states? West Virginia, the saddest of the sad states, sits at the very bottom, with West Virginians scoring themselves even more wretched than last year.

A happy place to be in West Virginia, Little Beaver Lake

Right after them on the misery index comes Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, and South Carolina.

Out of that list of the bottom ten, two are Northern States, of which one voted Democratic, Ohio, and one that voted Republican, Indiana. The rest are Red and Southern.

Want to feel really good, then try living out West, in the Midwest or New England, especially if you vote Democratic.

Click on Wellbeing Map to see how your state scores on the Wellbeing Index.

To me the moral of the lesson is simple: You are more apt to be very unhappy living in a Southern, Red state than the rest of the country.

What Makes Happiness in Our Lives?

Before you harangue the messenger, remember the Wellbeing Index is not done by me, but by your friends, neighbors, and probably even family members who were surveyed by Gallup. I’m merely pointing out some very interesting coincidences about the convergence of happiness, where you live and how you vote.

Gallup, on its website about the “State of the States,” explains its index this way: “These state-level data are based on daily surveys conducted from January through December 2012, including interviews with more than 350,000 Americans nationwide and at least 1,000 residents in each state except Alaska and Hawaii. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index summarizes more than 50 different wellbeing items and is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents ideal wellbeing.”

If you are unhappy with these statistics, you probably live in one of the bottom ten and are quite cranky reading the results. It would make anyone dismal to read such news. So before you start to rant about lying statistics, know what your state’s residents said to pollsters.

The survey asked questions of the interviewees to find out how they rated themselves on these topics: your own well being, your life evaluation, your emotional health, your work environment, your physical health, your healthy or unhealthy behaviors, and your access to basic necessities of life.

Vermonters lover their veggies

As an example: Vermonters were deemed to have the healthiest behaviors in the U.S., including a high percentage of residents who ate five or more servings of fruit and veggies at least four times a week.

Wow! Imagine a state full of people who do that. Sorry, Kentucky, but you fell to last place on this list, admitting to not very healthy eating habits.

Massachusetts folks said they had good access to the basic necessities of life such as health insurance (yes, a vote of thanks to former Gov. Romney), clean water, places to exercise, and those essentials of affordable food, shelter and medicine. Worst state in this category? Mississippi. One of the reasons is that it had the highest percentage of its citizens unable to afford food for themselves or their families in the past year.

So while the Declaration of Independence celebrates the pursuit of happiness, that elusive goal of our lives, you may find you will have to move if you want to break out of a funk caused by where you live. Then, and maybe just then, you might find your bluebird of happiness.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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