02/17/2012 02:26 pm ET

Journalists, Voters Raise Different Concerns In GOP Debate Questions: Study

Journalists and ordinary citizens disagree on the most important issues that GOP candidates should address in debates, according to the results of a new study.

The candidates have answered a staggering 879 questions over the course of twenty GOP debates since May 2011. NYU professor Jay Rosen's journalism students worked with The Guardian to determine whether the questions posed by journalists addressed voters' concerns. The results were mixed.

The students compared the issues raised in questions asked by journalists and ordinary citizens. They found that voters rarely wanted to know about polls, flip flopping, negative ads and candidate electability. "And yet all of those things are major preoccupations of the campaign press," Rosen wrote.

The study also concluded that journalists were preoccupied with finding out which candidate is the most conservative. Thirteen percent of the debate questions addressed the issue. On the flip side, audience members never asked about it when handed the microphone.

The issues that received the most debate questions were "improving the economy and creating jobs" (27%), the "candidates' backgrounds and records" (27%), and "fixing government and reducing the debt" (26%).

The goal of the study, according to Rosen, is to find out what aspects of the candidates' campaigns voters care about the most. "If we knew what the electorate wanted this campaign to be about... we could revise and adjust campaign journalism to better reflect the priorities of the users, which are bound to be different from the obsessions of the political press," he explained.



Some of the most controversial debate questions:

Controversial Debate Questions