First recent coeds, now independent voters: Right now, Obama is just not appealing to them as he once did. According to a Bloomberg poll released today, just 23 percent of independent voters say they are certain they will vote for Obama, while 36 percent say they will seek out another candidate. A red flag for the would-be reelected.

As might be expected, the economy appears to be the pivotal point:

Just 23 percent of those surveyed … say they are hopeful about the economy because they see signs of improvement, while 25 percent say they are fearful things are getting worse and 51 percent are cautious because nothing seems to be happening.

Those signs of economic pessimism aren’t helping Obama’s reelection bid.

Sixty-one percent of Americans say they believe the president will have had a chance to make the economy “substantially better” by the end of 2012, while 37 percent say he won’t have. Forty-four percent of Americans say they are worse off than they were when Obama took office, while 34 percent say they are better off and 21 percent say they are doing about the same.

A run on his record will apparently be trickier for the president than his 2008 run on rhetoric — and no wonder. To review: During Obama’s term in office, the federal government has run record-high deficits, spending has climbed at an ever steeper rate, debt has climbed to more than $14 trillion and unemployment has hovered around a painfully high 9 percent.

That’s not to say Republicans don’t have their work cut out for them. The Bloomberg poll reveals more voters worry that “Republicans will gain control of both houses of Congress and the presidency and will implement their proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and many other domestic programs” than worry about a second Obama term.

But interestingly, more voters also say they prefer spending cuts to stimulus spending to cope with the crippled economy. Specifically, 55 percent say they think “spending cuts and tax cuts will give businesses more confidence to hire” — and cited that solution as the one most likely “to be successful in growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs” (still the No. 1 issue for voters).

This suggests more voter education is needed, especially about entitlements. After all, entitlement debt dwarfs all other spending. In the future, Medicare faces unfunded obligations of $37.9 trillion, Social Security unfunded liabilities of $7.7 trillion. Those liabilities have to be addressed — and, unfortunately, whatever approach the government takes will likely have to include cuts to programs people would like to be able to count on and enjoy. I’d rather not phrase it that way, though. Is it really a cut to admit candidly the country doesn’t have the money to spend in the first place and to restructure the program to accommodate what the nation can afford?

Personally, I’d prefer serious reform to false promises and, for the most part, it looks like independents feel the same way.