Winner: Donald Trump
What started out polite quickly turned into a Sin City slugfest.
Trump had his strongest debate performance, without question. He bested Clinton on the economy, foreign policy, open borders and WikiLeaks, and had her scrambling for cover on the Clinton Foundation.
Trump also did a good job of talking to #NeverTrumpers when it came to the Supreme Court, particularly on the subjects of partial birth abortion and the Second Amendment.
But when you are trailing in the polls as Trump is, what you don't need is a headline the day after the debate questioning whether you will accept the election results or a potential Clinton ad running on a loop in key battleground states featuring his "such a nasty woman" comment.
Those misguided political calculations risk overshadowing an otherwise great debate performance by Trump.
Bottom line: He needed more of a game-changer with 19 days to go until Election Day.
O'Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, an adjunct professor at George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, worked on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and is author of the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery."