By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Three presidential debates in the history books. So now what?
After all the hype by the media, the expectations games played by both campaigns, lowering the bar for their guy, raising the bar for the other guy, the three 90-minute sessions themselves, the post-game spin by both sides and all the talking heads on television. After all that, here's what we know:
Mitt Romney did himself some good. Maybe even a lot of good.
Headed into that first debate, some had already written Romney's political obituary. They thought the race was President Obama's to lose. And that's just what he did in that first debate. He tried to throw it all away.
Regardless of who wins the election, one of the most memorable moments of this campaign will likely be President Obama's failure to show up for that debate.
The president's dismal, un-presidential and uninterested performance combined with Mitt Romney's strong showing shook this race to its core. As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wisely predicted beforehand, that first debate did in fact turn the race "upside down."
Ever since that moment, as the polls turned against President Obama, he's been playing catch up.
The president came prepped for the remaining debates. He went on the offense against Romney and held his own. However, these last two face-offs didn't provide a clear winner like the debacle in Denver did.
What remains to be seen is whether the president can stop the bleeding and undo the image that he left on the 70 million Americans who watched that first debate.
We'll find out in two weeks.
Here’s my question to you: Now that the debates are history, how much did they matter?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Dave in Kissimmee, Florida:
They mattered little. The only thing different is that Obama didn’t bother to show up for the first dog-and-pony show and that permanently set him behind. I took it as an insult to those of us who support him.
Jack, The first debate's impact was huge. We will all be talking for years about how to win or lose an election by one debate performance.
Ann in Charleston, South Carolina:
Debates matter in varying degrees for different people. For folks who have been paying attention throughout the primaries, the debates mattered little. For those who have just recently tuned in to the election, the debates may have helped them make a decision.
D. in New York:
I think that they did matter and the first debate turned the tide. Romney got to prove that he is not some sort of cold, out-of-touch monster. Obama, getting more desperate with each passing week, showed what an angry, petty street fighter he is. Romney came across as reasonable, smart, able to cross the aisle, capable and presidential.
Annie in Atlanta:
Honestly, Jack, the debates don't mean a thing to me personally. But then I pay attention to what these guys say from the first day they throw their hat in the ring. It's a shame we have so much information available to weed through yet so few of us even bother.
Ken in Seattle:
Some of my favorite TV programs were not on and that was a bummer. In terms of the election, they provided nothing of value.