There was a lot of yelling. There were too many interruptions. The moderator had trouble controlling the participants, but who can blame him, since they did not seem overly interested in being controlled. I wonder how many of the voters who are disgusted with politics watched the debate in its entirety. Not a few people probably ended up being disgusted with politics as a result of the debate.
Who wins an unwatchable debate? The candidate who had the momentum to begin with. On a national level, that would mean Joe Biden. But the race is much closer in the battleground states, and the bases of both candidates were in all likelihood pleased with elements of what they saw in Cleveland. Biden’s dodge on court packing, for example, left him vulnerable. I don’t think the Trump boat parades are going to stop anytime soon. And there is also the question of whether you would want to win the first debate, since previous challengers who were thought to have done so—Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Walter Mondale—went on to defeat.