“The Iron Range is back in business,” Trump declared in a speech in Minneapolis last October.

The area’s growing affinity toward Trump provides a case study in how the president has brought the blue-collar vote to heel with a mix of culture and economic promise. But not everyone is willing to cede the town and region to the Republicans. Even some who like Trump’s mining policies chafe at his harsh rhetoric. Still others express concern about the threat to local waterways and wilderness. But all agree that the economic changes looming over the area created a mixed-up political stew in which Trumpism floated most easily to the top.

“The hope rested with Trump, that’s where the people went … it’s hope. People want hope for a better future,” said Ely Mayor Chuck Novak, a self-described Humphrey Democrat who has thrown his support behind the president winning a second term. He is an ardent supporter of the new mining project.

“This is the old method of politics,” he added. “You take care of your economy and your people.”