Bill Kristol addressed this earlier today:
Actually, since the audience for presidential primary debates is pretty specialized in the first place, it’s not clear how many viewers will be lost to baseball. But to the degree some are, it makes the overall performance of each candidate through the hour-and-a-half of the debate less important, and producing a memorable soundbite or a winning exchange more crucial. A higher percentage than usual of potential voters will get their impression of this debate not from watching all or most of it, but from news accounts of it. And those accounts will feature only a couple of answers or exchanges. So the candidates will be spending even more time than usual today preparing their memorable ad libs and rehearsing their off-the-cuff witticisms.
Perhaps this helps explain why the candidates were in especially good form — they were exta-prepared to grasp for the soundbite.
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