As the French will head to the polls later this year to elect their president, remember this: elections with an incumbent are foremost a referendum on the incumbent. Do you play him or trade him? That’s the choice for voters and it is a consequential one. Voting for a challenger is merely expressing a wish. Voting for an incumbent renders a verdict. In that sense, what matters most for Macron is how average French voters next spring will feel about the state of the country, the pandemic, and their own personal situation and livelihood. If they feel good, Macron should sail to a relatively easy reelection.
Looking at possible opponents in the runoff, I can’t help but feel that he should not completely abandon the left. If there is anything he can do that pleases them without antagonizing the right, I would do it (some appointment, or signature speech). He might need some left votes in the second round.
Speaking of the runoff, I think that Valérie Pécresse is a formidable candidate and could give Macron a run for the money. She runs the capital region and just won reelection there running a great campaign. She is someone who can integrate different sectors and therefore can reach many voters. And, she is a woman, which could appeal to women on the left.
I handicapped the French presidential election in a piece for the British Daily Express. You can read it here.