Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

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Research Article - Journal of Child and Adolescent Health (2021) Volume 5, Issue 3

Political Party Preference of Freshmen University Students and its Association with Student Lifestyle Characteristics and the Influence of 1 Year Public University

Objective: To determine the political party preference of university freshman students the first month and last month of their first year of college and its association with gender, race/ethnicity, demographic and lifestyle factors.

Methods: This cross-sectional study consisted of 200 university freshman students (18 or 19 years old) who were enrolled in the first week of September 2018 at the University of Iowa. Students were screened for freshman student status, age between 18-19, and plan to remain on campus next semester. Students who met all inclusion criteria were given informed consent and filled out a questionnaire at enrollment and follow-up. Data were entered using REDCap Cloud software (Encinitas, CA). Comparisons between categorical variables were assessed using Pearson’s Chisquare test. Statistical analyses were performed using SAS version 9.4.

Results: Of the 200 freshman students, 73 (36.5%) men and 127 (63.5%) women were enrolled with the majority claiming residence in Iowa (67%). At enrollment 62.9% said they had registered to vote (59.2% men, 65.1% women). The political party preferences were as follows: Republican 31.5% (men 33.8%, women 30.2%), Democrat 39.1% (men 28.2%, women 45.2%), Libertarian 4.1% (men 4.2%, women 4%), Independent 13.7% (men 19.9%, women 11.9%), and none of the above 11.7% (men 16.9%, women 8.7%). At enrollment, there was no significant association between political party preference and gender, race, hometown political preference, nicotine or caffeine exposure, and vegetarian diet. Urban vs. rural hometown had a significant influence on initial political party preference.

Conclusion: The majority of freshmen university students had registered to vote. The Democratic party was the highest preferred party, the Libertarian party the lowest preferred, and 11.7% reported no preference. College freshmen were significantly likely to change their political party preference by the end of their freshman year, leaning more towards the Democratic Party.

Author(s): Brooks Jackson

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