Candidates don't win elections from the extremes, says ex-Obama strategist

Former Obama campaign strategist Joel Benenson on Thursday warned 2018 midterms candidates against running from the extremes. 

"This is a centrist country. We don't live at the extremes. And you don't win elections, and you can't govern from either extreme. You need to win people in the middle and persuade them to your side in order to create a majority," Benenson told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." 

Benenson said that the increased popularity of former President Obama's signature healthcare law was evidence he was able to win people in the middle and bring them to his side of the issue. 

"President Obama, for example, to his credit over the last six years of his term after ObamaCare passed, sold the country that this was good, and they saw it in reality, and that's why the Republicans after vowing to repeal and replace it couldn't do it," Benenson said. 

This year's midterm primaries have seen a number of hopefuls from the far ends of both parties emerge, knocking out more moderate, establishment candidates. 

Progressive Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won a surprise victory in Florida's Democratic gubernatorial party, beating out establishment Democrats to face Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisDeSantis wants statue of civil rights activist to replace Confederate figure on Capitol Hill Florida couple wins right to plant vegetables in front yard after years-long legal battle Former sheriff running for reelection after suspension over Parkland shooting MORE, who has emerged as a popular figure in President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE's wing of the Republican Party. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found Gillum leading with 50 percent of the vote, and DeSantis close behind at 47 percent within the margin of error. 

The poll also found Gillum leading with Independent voters. 

— Julia Manchester