Following the violent insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, investigators have looked into the role hate and extremist groups may have played in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Several prominent members of the far-right group the Proud Boys have been charged with conspiracy after prosecutors said they planned and funded the storming of the Capitol. The organization is one of the newest hate groups in the country, as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials raised concerns at a 2020 Senate hearing that extremists across the ideological spectrum, including white supremacists, pose a threat to public order and national security.
The number of hate groups in America peaked in 2018 at 1,020. In 2020, that number had declined to 838. That is equivalent to 2.5 hate groups for every million people. In some states, the concentration of hate groups is far greater.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the SPLC, a legal advocacy organization with a focus on civil rights, to identify the states with the most hate groups per capita.
Though the number of hate groups has decreased in the past few years, these groups have become scattered and difficult to track, as they communicate online through encrypted platforms. Many people who harbor white nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, neo-Nazi, anti-LGBTQ and other extremist views are not official members of any specific hate group.
States with outsized shares of hate groups tend to have several characteristics in common. Most of those on the list of finalists for the state with the most hate groups are not very racially diverse and are home to higher shares of residents identifying as white alone and to lower shares of foreign-born residents than the comparable national averages. States with high concentrations of hate groups also tend to have low median household incomes and high poverty rates.
Montana is the state with the most hate groups. It is one of the least diverse states in the country, with 85.8% of residents identifying as white alone, the fifth-highest share in the country. It also has the third-lowest share of foreign-born residents among states, at 2.3%. Nationwide, 13.7% of U.S. residents were born outside the country.
Montana has by far the most hate groups per capita of any state, with 5.55 such groups per million residents. This is more than double the U.S. rate of 2.5 hate groups per million. No other state has even 5.0 groups per million. Montana has six hate groups: two anti-Muslim groups, two white nationalist groups, a racist skinhead organization and a chapter of the Proud Boys.
To determine the states with the most hate groups, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the nonprofit advocacy group SPLC. We ranked states based on the number of active hate groups in 2020 per million state residents. The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization or collection of individuals that promotes beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, usually on the basis of immutable characteristics of the maligned class.
Hate group tallies were adjusted for population using estimates for July 1, 2020, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Unit Estimates program. Supplemental data on the percentages of the population that identify as white or that are foreign-born, as well as median household income, came from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.