This time the polls got it surprisingly right and shockingly wrong.

The polls accurately predicted Florida Republicans would reject their party’s establishment favorite and rally behind Jacksonville congressman Ron DeSantis to replace Gov. Rick Scott. But they failed to predict Florida Democrats would reject their party’s establishment favorite and choose Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum as their best bet to reclaim the governor’s office after a long 20 years. It was a stunning win for a candidate who had polled in the single digits through most of the campaign.

The question now is: which candidate can claim the middle?

For after sitting on the sidelines during Florida’s closed-party primaries, all eyes now turn to the 27 percent of Florida voters who align with neither party.

Like most Florida voters, polls show independents want something done about the economy, education and the environment. And getting something done can mean meeting people in the middle.

Yet DeSantis and Gillum reside on the far-right and far-left planks of their parties’ platforms. They represent a stark choice for voters in November. To win elections today, it may be better to double down on a progressive or conservative agenda, rather than pivot toward the middle. But when it comes to governing, such a strategy leads a lot of people feeling disenfranchised.

Gillum supports abolishing ICE in its current form, Medicare for All, legalizing the adult-use of marijuana and repealing Stand Your Ground. He’s charismatic and unabashedly progressive, Florida’s version of Bernie Sanders, who endorsed him. He speaks in depth about the challenges facing Florida, having dealt with them first-hand as the mayor of Florida’s capital city. If elected, he would be Florida’s first African-American governor.

We can’t say much about DeSantis’ views on the challenges facing Florida because he didn’t say much about them during the campaign. He ducked media interviews and refused to answer questionnaires. Instead, he spent a good deal of time in Washington — a regular guest on Fox News — attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

We know that DeSantis is a member of the congressional Freedom Caucus, which wanted to shut down the federal government rather than compromise on an omnibus spending package. He’s promised to vote against a carbon tax, which many believe could help curb global warming. And he blames the sugar industry for polluting Lake Okeechobee and causing the algae blooms in rivers running east and west, doubtful that leaky septics tanks north of the lake play a role. He’s wrong about that.

Look for the general election to be all about politics, not policy. And look for the focus to be on President Donald Trump, whose endorsement meant everything to DeSantis. Trump energizes his base. He energizes the opposition.

Editorial by the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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