Macron lost the French left, but now needs it for victory
The leftists have lost faith in Macron, but they might consider him the lesser of two evils.
Despite having served as a Socialist cabinet minister, French President Emmanuel Macron has long since burned up the goodwill he once had among left-wing voters.
"Last time, we had serious doubts about him, but we said to ourselves that at least he came from the left -- albeit the free-market left," said Zahra Nhili, a 42-year-old business consultant.
She supported him in the last round of the 2017 election when he faced off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, a battle that will be played out again this Sunday.
"We've seen him now. He's clearly from the right," Nhili said.
Read more: French Presidential Elections: Electoral process
Her district, like the rest of the city, overwhelmingly supported Macron's hard-left competitor Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round of presidential elections on April 10.
However, while Melenchon won first place in Nantes, a developing city with a big number of students and tech start-ups, the former Trotskyist placed third overall and was eliminated.
The top two finishers, Macron and Le Pen will face off in the second round of the election on Sunday, both needing more than 50% of the vote to win.
A split for Macron
Left-wing voters are expected to be critical in determining the outcome of the election on Sunday.
In the first round, around 7.7 million people voted for Melenchon, with another 3.5 million voting for the Greens, Socialists, and other far-left candidates.
All of these votes are now at stake, and the old "republican front" is collapsing.
Read more: Macron might win elections with 53.5% of votes - Poll
According to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll released this week, roughly one-third of Melenchon backers wanted Macron to win, while the other half were undecided.
If more people abstained or supported Le Pen than projected, it may tilt a close contest in which Le Pen is behind Macron by 46% to 54% in an average of recent polls.
"The left-wing electorate has the outcome of the second round in its hands," said Jerome Fourquet, a political scientist and head of polling at the Ifop research group.
Le Pen's Muslim vote
Young people, the environmentally conscious, the public sector, and unionized employees all voted overwhelmingly for Melenchon.
Multi-ethnic, low-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of French cities overwhelmingly supported the outspoken 70-year-old, none more so than the northern Parisian suburb of Villetaneuse, a Communist party stronghold for a century.
Melenchon won the district, which has a sizable Muslim community, by his widest margin in the country on April 10th, with 65% of the vote.
"Everyone here liked Melenchon's program," said Azdine Barkaoui, a father-of-four on the minimum wage, who agreed with taxing the rich more and Melenchon's embrace of multiculturalism.
Despite Le Pen's threat to ban the Muslim hijab in public and restrict foreigners from social security, many people were skeptical that they would vote for Macron as decisively as they did in 2017.
"We know that most of the stuff on Islam she'll never be able to implement," said Barkaoui, a practicing Muslim, who said he planned to vote for her as the lesser of two evils.