Presidential debates rarely turn on policy proficiency; rather, they turn on body language, zingers, personality and stumbles.
This one was fiery from the start, and the fact-checkers will certainly have headaches tomorrow morning. Trump had Clinton staggering for the first 20 minutes on the issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and trade. But Clinton was able to right the ship by putting Trump on the defensive about his tax returns and the issue of "birtherism."
Trump failed to capitalize on several opportunities, most prominently Clinton's email scandal. Clinton scored points, but Trump hardly disqualified himself.
The good news for Trump is that he went toe-to-toe with Clinton on the debate stage, which elevated his legitimacy as a candidate — something that's especially crucial when you are the challenger party candidate.
As we move on to the second debate, look for both candidates to tweak their tactics.