Google

The United States of Google: An Autocomplete Atlas


There's more than the South and Midwest

Photograph by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There's more than the South and Midwest

As an experiment, we typed the names of the 50 states into Google (GOOG) to see what people most frequently ask about them. The questions range from dumb (well, mostly dumb) to revealing, both about the states and about the people doing the searching. Lots of questions about carrying a gun, buying alcohol, getting divorced, and fighting union organizers. Whether a state is in the Midwest or South seems to be a particular obsession. But the most common question about the states is even more basic: Is it a state?

To try it yourself, use Google’s autocomplete function. Type “Is Alabama” into the search bar, pause, and you’re given four possible questions based on what others have asked before.

As Google says:

Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically determined based on a number of factors (including popularity of search terms) without any human intervention. Just like the web, the search queries presented may include silly or strange or surprising terms and phrases. While we always strive to reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for things like pornography, violence, hate speech, and terms that are frequently used to find content that infringes copyrights.

Alabama:
Is Alabama racist?
Is Alabama playing today? [The university is better known than the state.]
Is Alabama a good school?
Is Alabama a community property state?

Alaska:
Is Alaska a state?
Is Alaska an island? [No.]
Is Alaska a good place to live?
Is Alaska connected to Canada? [Yes.]

Arizona:
Is Arizona bad for you?
Is Arizona iced tea gluten free?
Is Arizona a good place to live?
Is Arizona iced tea healthy?

Arkansas:
Is Arkansas a state?
Is Arkansas a southern state?
Is Arkansas an open carry state? [Gun owners want to know.]
Is Arkansas a dry state?

California
Is California a city? [Umm … no.]
Is California a good place to live?
Is California a right to work state?
Is California an at will state?

Colorado
Is Colorado cold?
Is Colorado a community property state?
Is Colorado red or blue?
Is Colorado in the Midwest? [Not when we last checked.]

Connecticut
Is Connecticut a state?
Is Connecticut a good place to live?
Is Connecticut an open carry state?
Is Connecticut a no fault state?

Delaware
Is Delaware a state?
Is Delaware a good place to live?
Is Delaware a commonwealth?
Is Delaware a party school?

Florida
Is Florida a good place to live?
Is Florida sinking? [No. Not all of it, anyway.]
Is Florida a community property state?
Is Florida a country?

Georgia
Is Georgia a country? [Actually, yes.]
Is Georgia a good place to live?
Is Georgia a community property state?
Is Georgia a right to work state?

Hawaii
Is Hawaii a state?
Is Hawaii expensive?
Is Hawaii humid?
Is Hawaiian a language?

Idaho
Is Idaho a community property state?
Is Idaho a racist state?
Is Idaho a state?
Is Idaho racist? [Idaho, you seem to have an image problem.]

Illinois
Is Illinois a community property state?
Is Illinois in the Midwest?
Is Illinois in Chicago? [Only part of Illinois is in Chicago.]
Is Illinois a no fault state?

Indiana
Is Indiana a state?
Is Indiana in the Midwest?
Is Indianapolis Central Time?
Is Indiana on Eastern Time?

Iowa
Is Iowa a right to work state?
Is Iowa a good place to live?
Is Iowa a red state?
Is Iowa a state?

Kansas
Is Kansas a state?
Is Kansas City in Missouri?
Is Kansas City in Kansas?
Is Kansas City in two states? [Bingo.]

Kentucky
Is Kentucky a good place to live?
Is Kentucky a state?
Is Kentucky in the South?
Is Kentucky southern?

Louisiana
Is Louisiana a state?
Is Louisiana a community property state? [Good to find out before you divorce.]
Is Louisiana a right to work state?
Is Louisiana a good state to live in?

Maine
Is Maine a state?
Is Maine a Republican state?
Is Maine a cheap place to live?
Is Maine part of New England?

Maryland
Is Maryland a state?
Is Maryland a southern state?
Is Maryland in the South?
Is Maryland a middle colony? [Sounds like a homework question.]

Massachusetts
Is Massachusetts a state?
Is Massachusetts health care working? [Finally a smart question.]
Is Massachusetts in Boston? [Less smart.]
Is Massachusetts a right to work state?

Michigan
Is Michigan a state?
Is Michigan rolling admission? [The university, presumably, not the border crossings.]
Is Michigan in the Midwest?
Is Michigan a right to work state?

Minnesota
Is Minnesota a state? [YES. Stop asking!]
Is Minnesota a right to work state?
Is Minnesota cold?
Is MinnesotaBurns in Optic? [Screen name of Internet troll. Don’t ask.]

Mississippi
Is Mississippi a state?
Is Mississippi State a good school?
Is Mississippi a community property state?
Is Mississippi an open carry state?

Missouri
Is Missouri a good place to live?
Is Missouri a right to work state? [Non-union employers want to know.]
Is Missouri in the South?
Is Missouri a community property state?

Montana
Is Montana a state?
Is Montana a good place to live?
Is Montana a right to work state?
Is Montana a good state to live in?

Nebraska
Is Nebraska football on TV? [Go, Huskers!]
Is Nebraska cold?
Is Nebraska a red state?
Is Nebraska a state?

Nevada
Is Nevada exempt from Obamacare?
Is Nevada a state?
Is Nevada a community property state?
Is Nevada a good place to live?

New Hampshire
Is New Hampshire a good state to retire to?
Is New Hampshire a dry state?
Is New Hampshire a red state?
Is New Hampshire the Granite State?

New Jersey
Is New Jersey a peninsula? [You must be thinking of Florida.]
Is New Jersey a state?
Is New Jersey a no fault state?
Is New Jersey a right to work state?

New Mexico
Is New Mexico a state?
Is New Mexico in Mexico? [Not any more.]
Is New Mexico a community property state?
Is New Mexico in the U.S.A.?

New York
Is New York a state? [No. It’s a state of mind.]
Is New York Eastern Time?
Is New York a community property state?
Is New York a right to work state?

North Carolina
Is North Carolina a good place to live?
Is North Carolina a red state?
Is North Carolina a community property state?
Is North Carolina a dry state? [“Dry” as in: “Can I buy a drink there?”]

North Dakota
Is North Dakota cold?
Is North Dakota a nice place to live?
Is North Dakota real? [This turns out to be an actual issue.]
Is North Dakota State Division 1?

Ohio
Is Ohio in the Midwest?
Is Ohio a state?
Is Ohio Central Time?
Is Ohio a good place to live?

Oklahoma
Is Oklahoma in the Midwest?
Is Oklahoma a southern state? [People, not everything is South or Midwest.]
Is Oklahoma a state?
Is Oklahoma a right to work state?

Oregon
Is Oregon a state?
Is Oregon a right to work state?
Is Oregon bowl-eligible?
Is Oregon better than Alabama? [Our first argument starter.]

Pennsylvania
Is Pennsylvania a state?
Is Pennsylvania a good place to live?
Is Pennsylvania a right to work state?
Is Pennsylvania a commonwealth? [What? No one wants to know if it’s in Philadelphia?]

Rhode Island
Is Rhode Island an island?
Is Rhode Island a state?
Is Rhode Island an actual island? [This is what maps are for, folks.]
Is Rhode Island a middle colony?

South Carolina
Is South Carolina a community property state?
Is South Carolina a right to work state?
Is South Carolina racist?
Is South Carolina an open carry state?

South Dakota
Is South Dakota a state?
Is South Dakota a community property state?
Is South Dakota a good place to live?
Is South Dakota Mountain Time?

Tennessee
Is Tennessee a state?
Is Tennessee a right to work state?
Is Tennessee a dry state?
Is Tennessee a red state?

Texas
Is Texas a good place to live?
Is Texas a community property state?
Is Texas a state?
Is Texas an open carry state?

Utah
Is Utah a dry state?
Is Utah a red state?
Is Utah a state?
Is Utah Lake salty? [That would be Great Salt Lake. And yes.]

Vermont
Is Vermont a state?
Is Vermont racist?
Is Vermont a good place to retire?
Is Vermont a good state to live in?

Virginia
Is Virginia a good place to live?
Is Virginia a commonwealth?
Is Virginia creeper poisonous?
Is Virginia a good place to live? [Except for the Virginia creeper.]

Washington
Is Washington, D.C., a state?
Is Washington Heights safe?
Is Washington, D.C., a city?
Is Washington, D.C., in Maryland? [Ouch. The only state with no questions about the state.]

West Virginia
Is West Virginia a state?
Is West Virginia racist?
Is West Virginia University racist?
Is West Virginia University a good school?

Wisconsin
Is Wisconsin a state?
Is Wisconsin a right to work state?
Is Wisconsin in the Midwest?
Is Wisconsin a community property state?

Wyoming
Is Wyoming in the Midwest?
Is Wyoming cold?
Is Wyoming an open carry state?
Is Wyoming a state?

Coy_190
Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor. His Twitter handle is @petercoy.
Gambrell is a contributing graphics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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