Texas governor is ‘terrified’ he’s going to lose 2022 GOP primary: MSNBC analyst
Greg Abbott speaking at FreePac, hosted by FreedomWorks, in Phoenix, Arizona (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The extremism of Republicans in Texas is motivated by fear of their own voters, MSNBC national affairs analyst John Heilemann explained to "The Last Word" anchor Lawrence O'Donnell.

"Texas has become the Republican Party's working laboratory for their attacks on voting rights, reproduction rights, and immigration," O'Donnell noted. "And it is not polling very well."

"The latest University of Texas poll shows 52% of Texans believe their state is headed in the wrong direction, the highest since that poll started in 2008," he explained. "That same poll finds the approval rating of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is at 41%, the lowest since February 2016."

Heilemann, executive editor of "The Circus" on Showtime, offered his analysis.

He noted that the "monopoly status" of Republicans in Texas has only occurred in recent years.

"And yet it seems to see that status is imperiled by the rise of increasingly non-white population here, that demographic change, the way the suburbs have grown in Texas," he said. "And you can see Texas Republicans say, 'we can see the end of the road here' so they're trying to ram through as much extreme legislation as possible in as quick a period of time as possible."

He expected Abbott to face a GOP primary challenger in 2022.

"So even Greg Abbott right now is going to have a more conservative challenger. He's going to get primaried from the right in 2022. A lot of people think that's part of the reason why Abbott is doing what he's doing, cause he's worried that he could actually get beat in a primary by someone who's more conservative than him," he explained. "And that is a kind of metaphor and probably won't happen, but it's a thing that drives and animates this impulse."

"These Republicans are terrified," he said.

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