On Tuesday, those who felt left behind by progress and sneered at by elites made a statement.

MENOMONIE, Wis. — On election night, when Donald Trump claimed victory in Wisconsin, Shay Chamberlin was so excited she passed out.

Chamberlain believes Trump is her savior, sent by God to save America from ruin. She owns a women’s clothing store in this remote town; her husband runs a construction company. They have two children and barely get by on $44,000 a year.

In his victory speech, Trump called people like Chamberlain and her family America’s “forgotten men and women” – the blue-collar workers in the manufacturing towns of the Rust Belt and the hallowing coalfields of Appalachia who propelled him to an improbable victory. They felt left behind by progress, laughed at by the elite, and so put their faith in the billionaire businessman with a sharp tongue and short temper who promised to Make America Great Again.

When Trump first ran, Chamberlain thought to herself: “That’s the man everybody has been praying for.” And she now feels vindicated by his victory.

Not all of Trump’s support came from the blue-collar downtrodden. But the Republican’s overwhelming backing among whites with less than a college education is at least partly a reflection of how little the economic recovery since the Great Recession has benefited them. Their job opportunities have dwindled and their incomes have fallen, even as broader measures of the nation’s job market show improvement. But they also turned to him to hold back the tide of social change: same-sex marriage, transgender rights, a society growing more racially diverse.

The working class, long ignored, found an unlikely spokesman in Donald Trump. He promised to build the wall to keep out immigrants. He promised to tear up trade deals that have ushered U.S. factory jobs overseas. He promised to restore the country to a time when the white working class felt appreciated and fulfilled.

“I feel like, not just most, but all Trump supporters are true patriots,” said 59-year-old Ginger Austin, who owns a graphics company in a tiny town in Jones County, one of the poorest places in North Carolina. “They love this country. But they’re taking our country away, and they’re changing it.”

The nation woke up Wednesday morning to learn just how starkly divided it has grown: Clinton won the popular vote by less than 200,000 ballots. But Trump won battleground states that had voted for Democrat Barack Obama twice. Thousands of registered Democrats, including many former union workers from the mines and factories, crossed party lines.

For example, in Dunn County, where Shay Chamberlin lives, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 53 percent to 46 percent in 2012, and John McCain 57 percent to 42 percent four years earlier. But it flipped to back Donald Trump 52 percent to 41 percent, over Hillary Clinton.

Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old small business owner in Wisconsin, called Washington a “cesspool” of career politicians, aware and indifferent to the plight of the American worker.

“We are considered flyover country, as you well know, and they don’t care about us,” he said. “And I think it was the silent majority that finally said, ‘Enough’s enough.’ ”

Jerry Blackburn, a retired county official in rural Virginia, said he feels like people from someplace else took all they could from him and his neighbors and then left them with nothing.

“They took our coal out of here and everybody rich on it. And what did we get?” he asked. “We got black lung. We don’t have good water to drink, we don’t have roads, we don’t have anything except a bunch of broken down old coal miners that’s forgotten. But everybody else got rich on us.”

Miners streamed into a convenience store on a highway between one struggling, West Virginia coal town and another on Wednesday morning. From behind the counter, manager Mary Jones recognized something she hadn’t heard in years: Hope.

They talked about jobs returning to this broken-down county. They talked about a chance at a brighter future. They talked about Donald Trump.

“I think we sent a message to Washington that we’re tired of them sitting up there doing nothing to help the working class people,” said Jones.