Rod Dreher thinks that conservatives who think that McCain won the latest debate are all wrong. He trumps polls which show Obama as the victor and he links to John Podhoretz as support. Podhoretz states,

The general feeling on the right side of the blogosphere is that this was McCain’s best debate and he did himself a lot of good. I think people on the Right were so relieved that the debate finally turned to matters of ideological and partisan moment — abortion, ACORN, Ayers, trade, spending — that, perhaps for the first time in his political career, they graded him on a curve. The problem, in my view, is that the shorthand in which McCain spoke about these matters made them comprehensible only to those of us who are already schooled in them. In almost every case, Obama answered McCain’s shorthand with longhand — with detailed, even long-winded answers that gave the distinct impression he was more in command of the details of these charges than the man who was trying to go after him on them.

We’re not the audience for these debates. Undecided voters are, and undecided voters are, or so studies tell us, often astonishingly ill-informed. You can only bring up new issues if you’re able pithily to explain the context and meaning of them. It is not a rap on McCain to say he’s not good at it; he doesn’t want to bother with the introduction. But in a setting like that, the introduction is what matters, far more than the attack.

I think there’s something inherently wrong with Podhoretz’ reasoning, though.

Consider the… undecided voter. I think there are both informed and ill-informed undecided voters. I know of people who have not decided who they will vote for precisely because they are aware (informed) of both McCain’s and Obama’s positions. They’re frustrated with the choices (or lack thereof) before them, and their frustration manifests itself in the form of indecision.

Now, consider the astonishingly ill-informed undecided voters. If such people are so astonishingly ill-informed, then such people have not put forth the effort to follow the candidates, and their positions. Thus, if such people have not taken the effort to become informed, up to this point in the campaign, then why should we expect that they will park themselves in front of a television and watch a 90 minute debate? Furthermore, if such people can only respond to pithily explained positions, then long-winded answers will be lost on them. Hence, such people will only respond to short campaign ads, the likes of which we will undoubtedly see in the next 2 1/2 weeks.