Last weekend I made my one my frequent trips (once a month) to visit my family in rural gulf coast Texas. Big birthday party, plenty of Beer, bar-b-q, and target shooting.
There is no doubt that Texas will go Red and my home county will be about 2-1 Romney, as it was last time. But I quickly got the impression that there is something very wrong in republicanville. The religious right (RR) is not behind Romney the way they were with McCain, and no where near as enthusiastic as they were for Bush. Though the media will not discuss it, the Mormon thing is a big problem in the evangelical community.
I am not saying that I believe that many in the hard right wing religious will vote for Obama, but I believe that a large number will simply not vote. I was surprised by how much my RR friends do not trust his convictions. They see him as soft on pro-life, and anti-gay rights. The moderate Mitt that we saw in the first debate may have made him more acceptable to the middle, but the RR just saw him as weak.
I could not find a single one of my RR friends who had voted early. There were several who planned to and never found time. The five Obama voters (that I can identify, ) in the group had all voted early. My gun nut buddies in the group are mostly voting for Romney, and a couple have voted, but I do not see the panic in there eyes about gun confiscations I saw four years ago.
From my experience the RR voter is not a true partisan, as in rooting for the D or R like you root for your collage football team. They have to have to see a direct benefit or loss to their family. If they can see the election has a straight line effect on a issue they care deeply about, you could not keep them away from the polls. But, if the candidate displays a true moral failing, or waivers on social issues then it is not worth their time to vote.
For the RR, a Mormon Romney is not one of them. You put that together with the moderate Mitt we have had in the last month, and you make it hard for the RR to see that straight line to the polls. For many of the RR a choice between the lesser of two evils is not a choice it is worth the effort of voting.