One reason President Obama is in trouble with independent voters.“The U.S budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 is $1.299 trillion, the second largest shortfall in history. The nation only ran a larger deficit for the 2009 fiscal year, which included the dramatic collapse of financial markets and a huge bailout effort by the government. The nation’s deficit that year was $1.412 trillion. This year’s deficit is slightly higher than fiscal year 2010, when the nation ran a $1.293 trillion deficit. Fiscal years run through Sept. 30.”

Two months ago voters might have been paying attention. “Rick Perry rolled out an energy plan in suburban Pittsburgh on Friday hinged on proposing a massive expansion of energy exploration, including drilling for oil in Alaska and coastal waters of the East and Gulf coasts.”

And this was before the avalanche of money following New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision not to run.“Mitt Romney posts $14 million in 3Q fund-raising period.”

It didn’t even take the full four years for this new Obama entitlement plan to collapse. “The Obama administration says it is unable to go forward with a major program in the president’s signature health care overhaul law — a new long-term care insurance plan. Officials said Friday the long-term care program has critical design flaws that can’t be fixed to make it financially self-sustaining. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress in a letter that she does not see a viable path forward at this time. By law, implementation of the program was contingent on Sebelius certifying it financially sound.” one unsustainable entitlement program down; one to go.

Five military engagements during his first 3 years (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Japan and now Uganda), and Obama wants massive cuts in defense.

Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman are at 6 percent in the latest New Hampshire poll. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is at 2 percent, ahead of only Gary Johnson. Mitt Romney leads with 41 percent.

Shocking, I know, that Jon Huntsman should be low in the polls and flat broke. “The Huntsman campaign, which re-trenched last month by laying off staff and moving its national quarters to the must-win primary state of New Hampshire, finished the third fundraising quarter in September with just $327,000 in the bank and $890,000 in debt.” But John Weaver and the consultants got paid. And this was the guy the MSM took seriously.

Eight points separate Obama and a “generic” Republican in the latest Gallup poll. “U.S. registered voters, by 46% to 38%, continue to say they are more likely to vote for the Republican presidential candidate than for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. . . . Democrats favor Obama by a wide margin, but they support their party’s candidate to a lesser degree than Republicans support theirs. Independents currently favor the Republican candidate by 43% to 30%.” Good thing for the GOP is that a generic Republican is leading in the polls.

Herman Cain is getting hammered and lacks the infrastructure to defend himself an organize in key states. “ But more than a few Cain admirers are skeptical that he can make the rapid transition — from underdog candidate and cable-news fixture, to legitimate presidential contender — that the moment requires.For a candidate who was on a book tour as recently as last week, it’s possible that the organizational deficit already is insurmountable. And a policy makeover could be a tall order for a candidate who has persistently refused to take a position on the war in Afghanistan, and who has given only flippant answers to recent questions about his 9-9-9 plan.”

Perry should have taken about 10 minutes, not 62 days (since his August announcement) to crib other pols’ energy plans. “Expanding oil and gas exploration, repealing environmental regulations and restructuring the Environmental Protection Agency are some of the cornerstones of Rick Perry’s energy plan.Also, Newt Gingrich’s. The Texas governor’s energy platform, unveiled in a speech Friday morning, is stirring up calls of copycat from the Republican presidential field.”

As The Post’s Karen Tumulty asked at the Oct. 11 GOP debate, shouldn’t someone be going to jail? “A former Energy Department adviser who pushed for a California solar company to receive a half-billion federal loan has raised more than $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. New campaign finance records show that Steve Spinner, a former sport fitness executive who helped monitor a clean-energy loan guarantee program, raised more than $500,000 for Obama as of Sept. 30. E-mails released last week show that Spinner was actively involved in a $528 million federal loan for Solyndra Inc., despite pledging to recuse himself because his wife’s law firm represented the company.”

In 2012 Tea Party groups by and large seem ready to back Romney if he’s the nominee, although they aren’t happy about it. Dave Zupan, a Tea Party leader and FreedomWorks player: “ ‘The Tea Party’s going to show up for whoever’s the candidate. We’re focused on a goal,’ said Zupan, who is active in two local Ohio groups and is also on a 12-member Tea Party Debt Commission organized in part by FreedomWorks . . . . Zupan said that giving control of the Senate over to Republicans would be a way to hem Romney in, helping ensure he fulfills promises to conservatives such as repealing Obama’s health law. . . . Many Tea Party activists believe that the country is at a crisis point and that a second term for Obama would make it impossible in the future to reduce the size of government.”