Trump at a rally in Arizona. Ralph Freso/Getty Images

With just 17 days left until the election, President Trump is going all in on immigration as a way to help Republicans keep the House. “Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to deadly drugs and endless gangs,” he said at an Arizona rally last night.

Why it matters: Republicans have a 16% chance of keeping the House, according to FiveThirtyEight. That certainly worries Trump — who's already said it won't be his fault if that happens — so he's making the 2018 midterms all about the base.

Be smart: Immigration in 2018 isn't about policy; it's about both sides making a cultural argument to turn out their base voters. Democrats call to abolish ICE while Republicans claim Democrats want open borders and support MS-13 gangs.

Democrats worry immigration is an emotional and powerful issue that drives Republican voters to the polls, especially with stories like the undocumented immigrant accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

The big picture: The GOP hasn't been able to effectively talk about health care (after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act) and their tax law isn't polling well around the country. But immigration and stoking fear about Mexican immigrants propelled Trump to the White House in 2016, so he's forcing the GOP back into that conversation.

Think back to October 2016. That's when Trump introduced the phrase "bad hombres," vowing to deport all of them from the U.S.

  • He repeated the conspiracy theory that border patrol agents were speeding up immigrants' applications — even those with a criminal record — "so they can go and vote" in our 2016 presidential election.  
  • Exit polls from that election showed Trump crushed Hillary Clinton among voters who ranked immigration as the most important issue, winning them by 31 percentage points. And 73% of Trump voters ranked immigration as "very high importance" to them and their 2016 vote.

The bottom line: As a Republican national strategist told me this week, "The GOP closing argument will be all about immigration and stopping Democrats from controlling Congress."

Go deeper: Caravan of Honduran immigrants advances into Mexico

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests
  2. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases
  3. Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

4 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing" and the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus for the achievement, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

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