Anne E. Kornblut of the Washington Post explains
what happened to the president
[V]oters overall expressed dissatisfaction and anger, emotions that tore apart the coalition that catapulted the president into office two years ago. Women were no longer a firewall for Democrats, splitting their loyalty more evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Young voters, the iconic backbone of Obama's presidential campaign, did not turn out to vote as they had in 2008. Only Hispanics held firm for Democrats, with two-thirds supporting them nationwide.
All of it amounted to a significant dialing back of the mandate Obama had inherited so exuberantly with his election two years ago.
The catapult was torn apart! It lost its firewall and its iconic backbone. Also the inherited mandate (who died and left it to him? George Bush?) was dialed back. What say you to that, Peter Baker of the New York Times ?
Somewhere along the way, the apostle of change became its target, engulfed by the same currents that swept him to the White House two years ago. Now, President Obama must find a way to recalibrate with nothing less than his presidency on the line.
The apostle became a target, and the target was not shot at, like regular targets, but engulfed. And when an apostle-target gets engulfed by the currents, as everyone knows, it must recalibrate. (Maybe Obama can borrow Kornblut's dials?)