Romney isn't just weak. His record in office would make any liberal Democrat proud, and that has severely dampened support for him on the right.
If Romney were merely a moderate, he'd already be cruising double digits ahead of Obama. The stars were perfectly aligned for us to nominate a Reagan conservative in 2012, but we got a faux Republican instead. There's just not that much enthusiasm for the guy.
The stars are perfectly aligned for conservatives and non-conservatives who resent the ever-creeping stranglehold of government control over their lives, to take advantage of the weaknesses in BOTH candidates.
Risk is the price you pay for opportunity. There are many conservatives who loathe Romney but would risk him for the opportunity later "hold his feet to the fire." It is a very bad risk, as Romney would have the backing of lilly-livered moderate Republicans and Democrats when he moved to enact global warming legislation, pro-homosexual legislation, government-controlled health care, and when he nominated leftist judges. Conservative "fire" would be doused.
That would be magnified ten-fold if Romney won in a landslide with what would be interpreted as a popular mandate for his "progressive governing style." A landslide Romney win would be very dangerous, and risking it is crazy.
The odds of Obama winning on a landslide are virtually nil; many of the folks who voted for him last time will either not vote, or they will vote third party. Obama is dangerous and openly (as opposed to covertly, like Romney) holds the Constitution in contempt. But Congress is powerful and as conservatives and Republicans become dominant in Congress, that body in our system of government has the means of preventing Obama from advancing his agenda.
There are those so terrified of Obama -- as Linda Frances put it, "their fear is palpable" to the point of giving him power -- that they would vote for Romney, whose entire record is one of trampling ALL of the conservative basics they've been voting Republican to uphold. Would they, I wonder, vote for Ron Paul if he'd gotten the nomination, or would they, as they see it now, do the equivalent of "voting for Obama" by NOT voting for the Republican nominee? I have to wonder -- how far is too far?
Obama's chances of a landslide win are nil; Romney's chances of one are very real. Either way, America will end up with a liberal, statist, government-happy authoritarian. THE STARS ARE ALIGNED for conservatives and non-conservatives who are just sick of government nanny-staters to vote ON RECORD as opposing both the bastards, even knowing they'll get one or the other. BUT THE STARS ARE ALIGNED that if one in three said "to hell with both of them" and voted third party, the next president would get only a little more than a third of the popular vote. If that president was Obama, he would be a mockery and moderate Republicans in Congress would move hard-right after seeing Romney kicked to the curb.
The same would hold true to a lesser degree if Romney won.
There is an opportunity here to avert the disaster of a Romney landslide as well as an Obama mandate. This is one of the few election years ever where voting third party, even when that third-party vote isn't coalesced around a Perot-type candidate, is the smartest way to vote FOR CONSERVATIVES.
It is materially impossible to vote "against" a candidate. It is not a thumbs-up-or-down kind of vote. Those who vote for Romney may tell themselves that they're voting "against" Obama, but the cold reality is that they would be voting FOR turning the Republican party hard left, giving that their sanction and consent in voting for Romney, whether they meant to or not.
Obama's low standing in the polls makes it smarter than ever to vote third pary if Obama's opponent is Romney. As Windflier put it in another post, DENY THE WINNER A MANDATE, becaue either winner is bad news.