"Character was the big factor. A third of the questions were directed at trying to find out whether the candidates had leadership, honesty, integrity, and courage qualities. We were surprised at that. We were not surprised to find that the democrats faced twice the number of softball questions as did the Republicans."
CMI researchers analyzed 1,332 questions in 35 primary debates over the course of 12 months and found that character questions were asked more than questions about economics or foreign policy. Some character questions involved those topics, but were scored as character questions according to their capacity to reveal leadership, honesty, courage and integrity.
Partisan bias was revealed when researchers examined hardball and softball questions. Democrats faced more than double the number of softball questions (120) asked of Republicans (58). Seventy-five percent of the character questions asked to Republican candidates were hardballs, contrasted with 52 percent scoring as hardballs in character questions to Democrats.
Researchers also found that Fox News was toughest on the candidates as 84 percent of the network's character questions were counted as hardballs. Since Democrats refused to participate in debates sponsored by Fox News, all of those hardball questions were thrown at Republican candidates.
The full text of the report can be found here.