A Poll Says Massachusetts Residents Aren’t Sure We’re the Best State

There's a surprising amount of modesty in a new Gallup poll.

For all our defiant state pride—or “Massholery,” if you prefer—it turns out that Massachusetts residents are actually pretty modest about how the state measures up against others.

A new Gallup poll asked residents of all 50 states if they believed theirs was the best possible state to live in. Just 7 percent of Massachusetts poll respondents in the affirmative. A more encouraging 46 percent of us think we’re “the best or one of the best possible states to live in.” So maybe that suggests not a lack of pride but a humble admission that there might be charms to another way of life.

The nationwide results might surprise you. Massachusetts has neither the most nor the least pride. You’d expect the usual smug suspects like New York or California to rank themselves highest. But actually states that thought well of themselves tended to have low populations, cold weather, and mountains. Montana and Alaska had the most residents say theirs was one of the best states to live in.

There was an unshocking exception to this pattern: Texas. Ah, yes, Texas, where everything is bigger, including the egos. Texans had the highest number of respondents—28 percent!—tell interviewers that Texas was the best state possible to live in.

Don’t despair though that your fellow Massachusetts residents had such relative ambivalence about our own superlative charms. There’s not necessarily a huge correlation between residents’ opinions of their states and more objective measures of a state’s quality of life. Even Gallup seemed a bit confused at the states that ranked themselves highly:

However, the factors that residents use to determine whether their state is a great place to live are not always obvious. West Virginia, for example, falls far behind all other states on a variety of metrics, including economic confidencewell-being,standard of living, and stress levels. Still, over a third of West Virginians feel their state is among the best places to live, giving it a ranking near the middle of the pack.

Still, if you’d rather go somewhere nearby with a little more of that brash state pride, you’re better off heading north than south. The only states east of the Mississippi river that cracked the top 10 were New Hampshire and Vermont. (67 percent and 61 percent of their respondents, respectively, said theirs was one of the best states to live in.) Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south, Rhode Island and Connecticut, were in the bottom 10. Just 18 percent of Rhode Island respondents called theirs one of the best states to live in, giving them the least state pride of all. Connecticut—at 31 percent—doesn’t think much more of itself. Who could blame them when Massachusetts, with all its superiority, lies so inexorably close?