I love Oklahoma! I really do. I have not quite pinpointed why I love it so much. There are some truly terrific things about the state – many of which we need to do a better job of marketing – but there are also so many things that are just embarrassing. And yet, my love for Oklahoma is steadfast if for no other reason than that it is simply home. This affection for a place was perhaps most aptly described by C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves when he discusses what he defines as the first (and best) type of patriotism:
“First, there is love of home, of the place we grew up in or the places, perhaps many, which have been our homes; and of all places fairly near these and fairly like them; love of old acquaintances, of familiar sights, sounds and smells.”
- C.S. Lewis
This is what Oklahoma is to me and always will be. But what about everyone else? How do others feel about the State of Oklahoma? Also, which of the fifty states is the most loved and where does Oklahoma rank?
I decided to try and figure out which state was the most loved. After thinking through a number of fairly complex possibilities for measuring which states were loved the most, I decided on a simple solution suggested by my friend Frank Hebbert. Just Google it! Simply google the phrase “I love Oklahoma” and seeing how many results come back. It provides at least some insight as to how much the state is loved – or at least how often people express that love on the internet – and you can easily compare the results with those of different states.
Method of Data Collection Explained
So I put together a little php code to query Google for all 50 states using the search term “I love stateName” and return the number of results to a table (note: apparently Google frowns on people using their service for this type of “research” and will tag you as a spyware bot and block your service, but it’s not permanent). Here is what I got back. I found the results to be pretty interesting.
Overall Most Loved States
The data is not perfect, though I attempted to manually account for specific circumstances that caused the data to be skewed. For instance, with Indiana the numbers seemed high – initially some 37,900 – but upon further review I discovered that many these results were from the phrase “I love Indiana Jones” (my guess is that most of these were written prior to the release of the The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls!) Anyway, I subtracted these results as best I could using “-Jones” to end up at the numbers shown above. New York is particularly problematic because it is both the name of the State and a commonly used name for the City – a very large and apparently much beloved city. I added “-city” to the search term to try to account for some of this and also added “-vh1” in hopes of excluding many of the pages specific to the VH1 show that is actually titled, “I love New York”. As you can see – even with these modifications – New York had no trouble coming out on top. Not particularly surprising given the confusion of names b/w city and state and the fact that “I love New York” has been an active campaign to market tourism in the State for over 30 years now.
In addition to this, you could add precision by excluding results specific to a college or sport’s team (i.e. “I love Oklahoma football….a lot!”) or any other phrase that contains the “I love stateName” structure somewhere within the string. But I decided to keep it simple for now and only tackled the two very obvious outliers noted above.
Analyzing the Results
As for my Oklahoma, we finished a very respectable 29th. Not great, but not bad. And this is up against states with much bigger populations, providing a larger number of persons, each with the capacity to type “I love stateName” somewhere on the internet. In fact, Overall Most Loved is not the best measurement of how much a state is loved by its (or outside) residents, because larger states have a built in advantage. To account for this I adjusted the results to reflect the population by calculating the number of results per thousand residents.
Most Loved State per resident
(results per 1000 residents)
Unfortunately, this actually caused Oklahoma to slip to 30th. This is due to huge upward moves from lower population states that tend to attract vacationers, most notably:
- Wyoming – moving up 34 spots to 9th
- North Dakota – moving up 32 spots to 14th
- South Dakota – moving up 31 spots to 13th
- Delaware – moving up 30 spots to 15th
- And Vermont – moving up 28 spots to 7th
BUT Oklahoma is now one spot above Texas – which slipped to 31st place – so I am quite pleased with the results (Don’t Mess with Texas…ha!). Still, population is not the best measure as not every resident of say West Virginia has the same access to the internet as a resident of Massachusetts. I couldn’t find reliable data on internet connectivity, but I did find information on the number of households with computers which is at least a step closer to identifying the number of internet users. Here are the results when you adjust the data to reflect household computer ownership:
Most Loved State per household computer
(results per 1000 hh computers)
Finally we have a measure for the love for a state expressed on the internet per internet user (erhh…computer owner). Oklahoma comes in at a completely average 26th place – meaning we benefited by adjusting the numbers for computer ownership – which is not really a good thing. In fact, the states that moved up the most from the population adjusted list to the computer ownership adjusted list are all closely related geographically.
- Mississippi – moving up 9 spots to 26th
- Alabama – moving up 5 spots to 18th
- Oklahoma – moving up 4 spots to 26th
- Arkansas – moving up 3 spots to 45th
- Louisiana – moving up 3 spots to 38th
Show Oklahoma Some Love
Now, it is my hope that this post will begin a movement of people writing “I love Oklahoma” on every webpage, blog, message board, and bathroom stall they can find. You don’t have to be an Oklahoman to help, you don’t even have to have visited, all you have to do is write “I love Oklahoma” somewhere on the internet. I will rerun the numbers in a month or so and see if we have had any impact. I have been fairly liberal with my use of the phrase here in hopes of adding to the counts, but I can only do so much!
By the way, “I love Oklahoma City” as well, and sometime soon I intend to continue this series by exploring which cities people love the most – so stay tuned!
Till next time, you can look over the various state rankings listed below in alphabetical order. I have also provided a link at the bottom to the Google Spreadsheet containing all of the data used for the calculations. Or, make up your own test and let me know what you find out.
Alphabetical List of All States
Link to Google Spreadsheet containing all data used to produce rankings.