No, no one was doubting the Dems would put on a good convention. The surprise was on how shabby the GOP convention looked in comparison after Trump's million claims of how great it would be and its star power. I mean, the guy should at least know how to run a television show, right?
I'm not sure how you're defining "shabby" here. I get that this may be the perception that gets pushed around in liberal circles, and perhaps even in the political-media, but for the average person at home? They see a stage, with a podium, and a screen, and maybe some decorations on it, and a person giving a speech. Not much else goes on during prime time coverage, so unless you're literally arguing that the stage was shabby or something, I'm not seeing it.
The behind the scenes stuff only matters to those who are physically there, or those actively following the news coverage on 24 hour news channels. So "shabby" doesn't really have any impact on the people who matter (mostly voters who only tune in for the major TV covered events). The biggest difference IMO was the clear effort by the DNC to put as much "star power" as possible on the stage. Which looked great, and certainly wowed people. But it also does kinda step right into the narrative that Clinton is all about perception, but not reality. Why put on such a show unless you are worried that people might not think so well of you if the spotlight is just on you
That was another interesting takeaway IMO. The RNC was pretty much about Trump and just Trump. And while the liberals made a big deal about the whole "no prominent folks in the GOP want to be there" bit, it also meant that the audience at home saw Trump. The DNC was about everyone *except* Hillary Clinton. In an odd way, it also may have hurt her (although it looks like she got a modest bounce, so maybe not), in that she basically had to follow a whole list of *really* good speakers. She looked kinda ho-hum after the previous two nights where the main attraction was Bill Clinton and Obama, both incredibly good speakers. She did "ok", but not great, and again, following those two, it made her look kinda like the third string choice.
Which, I suppose, is why they're going with a "make Trump look bad", rather than a "make Clinton look good" approach. Probably not a bad choice either. I'm just not sure that it will hold up for 100 days.