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Minnesota ranks No. 2 in state-of-the-states list

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President Barack Obama on Tuesday likely will follow tradition and announce in his State of the Union address that America is "strong."

Is it? To further examine that, Politico explored the state of each state – and ultimately concluded that some are a lot stronger than others. The publication says Minnesota is second strongest, trailing only New Hampshire. The top five:

1. New Hampshire
2. Minnesota
3. Vermont
4. Utah
5. Massachusetts

The bottom five:

46. Alabama
47. Tennessee
48. Arkansas
49. Louisiana
50. Mississippi

Of course, there are a dizzying array of lists that rank cities and states, with new ones every week. Politico aimed to be more data-driven than most. Editors crafted their master list after sifting through 14 different state rankings from reputable sources that include the Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FBI. The publication examined data on a number of topics, including high school graduation rates, per capita income, life expectancy and crime rates.

Ranking states is not a new parlor game for the social-media age. Politico and The Atlantic note that journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken in 1931 pored over a number of data tables (and likely succumbed to prejudices of the time) to come up with a similar list. Mencken's top two: Connecticut and Massachusetts, with Mississippi at the bottom.

Minnesota has fared well in quality-of-life rankings since Mencken's day. A 1976 state report summarized a few of them, and highlighted a 1973 Time magazine cover story that noted, "It is a state where a residual American secret still seems to operate. Some of the nation's more agreeable qualities are evident there: courtesy and fairness, honesty, a capacity for innovation, hard work, intellectual adventure and responsibility."

Much more recently, Minnesota was said to be among the nation's healthiest states, No. 2 among states for young people on the opportunity index, and among the top states in the nation for rags-to-riches stories.

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