Now that some of the smoke has cleared around last night's presidential debate, it's time to ask the question that really matters: What will this debate mean come November?
It's a Free Country reporter Anna Sale was in Denver last night during the debates, and she found the reaction to be overwhelmingly one of disappointment in Obama's performance – from Democrats, independent voters, and Republicans alike.
Kristen Olsen, an Obama supporter, says "I just don't know that we saw the best of Obama tonight." Though Olsen says she is still going to vote for the president, she thought that Romney presented himself well.
A student at the University of Denver, where the first debate was held, had been undecided before the debate. Afterward, he seemed to lean toward Gov. Romney. "Governor Romney came in, he was more articulate, he seemed to just be more ready for what he was going to say," he said. "The whole night it just kind of seemed like he was on the offensive, and President Obama seemed to be more on the defensive."
Jason Smith is political reporter for MSNBC and thegrio.com. "People were kind of waiting on the president to really step up, and really go on the offensive, and kind of go after some of these charges that Romney made," Smith says. "The attitude was that Romney figured that if 'I just say it louder than anybody else, then it sounds like it's more true.' But a lot of what he was saying was basically the same things he's said over and over again that has either been debunked or disputed." The prevailing sentiment in the historically liberal Detroit was one of frustration. "How is it that the president hasn't pounced on him?"
Anna Sale agrees that this debate seems to have been a victory for the Romney campaign. "Seeing the two candidates, the two men on stage, seeing who seems more in command, more presidential, more of a leader – that's what people are looking for," Sale says. "As much as I've heard from swing voters over the summer, 'I want to hear more substance, I want to hear a plan, I want to hear really how they're going to help the middle class' – what voters afterwards were saying was all about style."