Where can a pop star score a hit by talking about the U.S. Electoral College? In China, where Gao Xiaosong's straightforward explanation of the system drew more than 1 million hits in four days.

Chinese interest in the U.S. presidential elections is particularly high this year because Americans are voting at the same time Beijing is going through its own political transition. A generation of Communist Party leaders will step down next week to make way for younger colleagues after a highly secretive selection process.

For many ordinary Chinese, comparisons are irresistible.

In a political cartoon circulated online, an American voter covers his ears as the candidates verbally attack each other, while a Chinese man struggles to hear anything from Beijing's party congress, taking place behind closed doors.