The Lowcountry looks on

Last minute stage setup for the first Presidential Debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the University of Denver take place as seen in a television camera monitor Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Local Democrats and Republicans will tune in at 9 tonight to see how President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney perform in their first face-to-face debate.

It remains to be seen how the televised event — the first of three scheduled before the Nov. 6 election — changes voters’ minds.

But watching partisans at local watch parties will provide a clue, so reporters Bo Petersen and Robert Behre will look on with Democrats in Summerville and Republicans in Mount Pleasant, respectively.

South Carolina is widely considered Romney turf, but the race remains close in many other states, and how the two hopefuls handle tonight’s questions — both what they say and how they look saying it — could alter the presidential race.