Barack Obama stopped by The Daily Show on Thursday to discuss why he believes youth turnout made a huge difference in the midterm elections and how globalization, disinformation and media infrastructure have contributed to democracy weakening around the world.
Trevor Noah began his conversation with the former president by asking him two questions: if he feels pressure to come out and support new Democratic candidates, and what he thinks it means for the party that he always has to hit the campaign trail.
While it seemed like Noah was hinting at the fact that Obama was a major factor in the Democratic victories this year, he shut down that notion and countered by saying he thinks it had everything to do with the people who were running.
“The reason we did better than expected can be attributed to not me or anything I did… we recruited some excellent candidates,” he told Noah, shouting out people like Wes Moore, Josh Shapiro, John Fetterman and Mark Kelly. “They are committed, passionate, down to earth, they connect with people,” he continued. “And so I come in mainly to shine a spotlight on them.”
The second point Obama made a purpose to address was something that makes him “hopeful” for future elections.
“The second thing that happened in this midterm, and we’ve seen it now for three elections, so I’m starting to feel pretty hopeful that this is a habit, young people are voting,” he said. “It has been many times remarked how I got thumped during midterms during my presidency, and part of it was that voting rates were really low.”
He explained that during his tenure in the Oval Office, he felt like a lot of Democrats felt that they were safe because he was in office, but once people like Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and others have power, it restricts what a president can do.
“I think that lesson was learned,” Obama said. “[Donald] Trump comes in, and suddenly 2018, 2020 and now this one, you’ve seen young people come in, and they’re typically voting at a rate of 70 to 30, 60 to 40 Democrat to Republican, and that makes a huge difference. Their enthusiasm I think is what really drove this election.”
And when asked what he thought about the fact that around 170 election deniers made it into office this year, the former president said he found it “funny” how those people don’t deny their own elections when they win. But he did see one positive outcome of them being elected.
“What is important is, that because of some really concerted efforts in a lot of important states, some of the most egregious, prominent and potentially dangerous election deniers, they got thumped,” he said. “They got beat.”
However, the fact that election deniers were able to climb through the ranks and ascend to office could reflect a bigger, broader issue around the world.
“The fundamental precepts of democracy are being challenged,” Obama stated, explaining that when people in the United States can’t accept when they lose, “it sends a signal all around the world that weakens democracy.”
Watch the full conversation below.