Study: Virginia Is the 10th Most Patriotic State


Virginia is the 10th-most patriotic state, according to a WalletHub study that looks at citizens’ civic and military engagement. Montana, Alaska, and Maryland make up the top three, while New York, Florida, and Connecticut are the U.S.’ least-patriotic states, according to the study. High military engagement in Virginia helped boost the commonwealth’s score despite a mediocre civic engagement score.

Virginia was ranked third out of all the states for military engagement. Military engagement was calculated by average military enlistees between 2013 and 2018, number of veterans, amount of active-duty military, and number of civilians in reserves. It was worth one-fourth of the total score, with civic engagement worth the other three-fourths.

Virginia has a large number of military bases. In fiscal year 2019, federal defense spending in Virginia was $60.3 billion – 10.9 percent of total U.S. spending and the second highest per state in the nation. That was 10.6 percent of Virginia’s GDP, and worked out to an average of $7,066 per resident, according to Department of Defense data.

A separate WalletHub study also found that Virginia is the best state for military retirees, scoring in the top five on metrics like high numbers of veterans, low numbers of homeless veterans, high numbers of job opportunities for veterans, and high amounts of veteran-owned businesses.

But Virginia’s ranking on civic engagement is a mediocre 22 out of 50. This was measured by share of adults who voted in 2020 elections, as well as several categories of volunteers, jury participation, share of residents who participate in groups or organizations, and a civics education category.

Virginia’s ranking has gone up and down over the past few years — according to a 2019 Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial, Virginia ranked number one in 2018, but plunged to 15th place in 2019.

“Virginia, much to our surprise, was ranked 15th in patriotism,” Robin Beres wrote. “We won’t pretend that we don’t find this year’s placement disappointing. The Mother of Presidents should have ranked higher. The commonwealth is recognized as the birthplace of America and home to many of the founders of the world’s most successful experiments in self-governance.”

But Virginia’s score has improved in the past two years. The commonwealth climbed up to 13th place in 2020 before reaching 10th place this year.

The study also found that, on average, states who voted for Trump in 2020 are slightly more patriotic than states who voted for Biden. WalletHub asked experts about the meaning of patriotism; they suggested patriotism includes loyalty and love for country but also a willingness to challenge injustice.

“It can be seen as a committed relationship with a long-time friend or spouse,” Illinois State University Professor Benjamin Wellenreiter told WalletHub. “Examples include following just laws and challenging unjust laws, paying taxes, civic participation in voting, military service, and even protest in an effort to improve society.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network.  Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Flying Colors” by Virginia State Parks CC2.0.








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One Thought to “Study: Virginia Is the 10th Most Patriotic State”

  1. John Bumpus

    I don’t believe this ‘survey’ for a ‘New York minute.’ In these types of surveys, someone is making value judgments based upon necessarily subjective criteria. In other words, someone has an agenda to promote–probably it is political in some way.