To their surprise, they got an actual debate.
Animated, energetic, controlled, and informative. Hats off to the moderator, NBC's Kristen Welker.
In the toughest seat in journalism, she is now receiving the gratitude of a politically exhausted nation.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden are now both claiming to be the winner. Oddly, both are right.
The President managed to portray himself as the insurgent and the outsider. That's some political feat, given he's been in office for four wild years.
He pleased his supporters - and the right-wing media echo chamber - by repeating allegations that Biden is corrupt, even without providing any credible evidence.
But for all that, Joe Biden emerged largely unscathed.
The current polling showing him with a commanding lead in Midwestern battleground states, so a draw for Biden is a win at this stage of the contest.
Another reason that Democrats are happy is that over 40 million Americans have already voted.
Those are locked in, and even if Trump scored points last night, it can't change votes already cast.
The cards have fallen exceptionally well for Biden for many months.
The Covid pandemic meant that he could run a low-profile, minimum-risk campaign, and he can claim he did so because of public health concerns.
He was lucky that the opening debate witnessed a President who lost emotional control.
He was fortunate that the second debate was cancelled.
In many ways, Joe Biden is a flawed and transitional figure.
If he wins, he will become America's oldest-ever president. But to be lucky is the greatest gift in politics.
As a result, with this debate behind him, Biden is now within touching distance of the White House.
Just ten days are left until election day and his last great obstacle was successfully surmounted here in Nashville.
This music city has seen many great performances over the years. This debate won't count among them, but it delivered America a clear choice.