The world has just watched the US presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Obama is known for his public speaking skills. However, in the first round of the three debates, the great orator upset his fans - as a CNN poll showed 67 percent of American viewers thought Romney outperformed him.
The outcome was unexpected, or perhaps the public held overly high expectations for Obama.
But does this mean Romney should start packing to move into the White House? Not necessarily. The Republican may have won the battle, but he still needs a game changer to win the war. What's that going to be?
Political commentators were quick to point out the mistakes that both candidates made during the debate.
It's said Romney became agitated too readily and, whenever he did, his arms flailed. He also dwelled too much on facts and figures.
Meanwhile, Obama tended to drone on and on as if delivering a lecture.
That's fine. But these aren't what a serious electorate is most concerned about. During the 90-minute debate, the two clashed on the economy and taxes, jobs, health care, federal regulations, entitlement reforms, and so on.
Inevitably, they also roasted China. It wasn't the first time the Middle Kingdom has been decried as the devil. This has always been the situation in a US presidential election. Perhaps Beijing is so used to this gimmick that it doesn't even bother responding to the non- issue.
There was a lot of rhetoric, but neither the incumbent nor the challenger was able to spell out what he really wants or how he's going to go about achieving it.
Romney dealt Obama a clear knockout in the debate. But a survey conducted by a US think tank that has been tracking the election suggests the Republican still lags far behind Obama.
The United States has an electoral system in which each state has a designated number of votes, and the one who wins the state gets all its votes. A total of 270 votes is needed to get into the White House. The current projection suggests Obama stands to reap 290 votes to Romney's 191, with 57 up for grabs.
For many of us in Hong Kong and others outside America, the real issue is whether the next US chief executive can cure the country's economic woes and bring about growth.
If he can, it would bode well for Guangdong manufacturers and export traders here.
Unfortunately, after the election one may realize that neither is the savior.
There are several dates to monitor closely. Today, the US labor department announces the employment situation for September. This will surely send a jolt through both camps.
If the job figures improve, it will bode ill for Romney.
The more crucial date will be November 2, when the department releases the next job report. That will be close enough to the November 6 vote.