Nice distortion: the 80% approval rating is STATE-wide, not Wasilla. That includes a significant number of liberal Democrats, don't you supppose.
Your endless speculation about the child-rearing skills of Governor Palin amount to nothing more than pot-stirring. And the consequences of it are now showing up in the polls. You'e so obsessed with your methods, you ignore your results.
Oh, yeah. 80% state wide.
I lived there, taking a few years off of college to pay for the subsequent years. I started going up there in the early 1970's to work in fish canneries.
The population of Alaska was unbalanced not by the discovery of oil, but the subsequent decision to begin drilling in the "North Slope" and then the building of the pipeline, its pumping stations and the tanker facility in Valdez. The workers for this effort overwhelmingly came from Texas and Oklahoma with a smattering of Western Mountain States. A significant number stayed once the pipeline construction ended, as they were encouraged to stay by the state of Alaska.
Before big oil and the pipeline, the largest block of the population was US military, as, after the cold war started the proximity to the USSR made Alaska a "prime" military location. The bulk of the rest of the population was focused on making a living from the fishing, and concentrated on the coastlines and islands, especially south of Anchorage (inland had "towns" that comprised a crossing of two roads with a gas station and a genuine country store).
I believe the military population brought with it a demand for locally grown foods and a significant farming group began to plant in the Matanuska Valley. Before that there was farming but on a much smaller scale and most fresh goods were flown in from Seattle, with frozen everything else coming over the "Alcan" highway in trucks. I remember going to a state fair outside Anchorage and seeing some legendary cabbages the size of a Smart car. Along with the rest of the livestock and real farm products you see at a fair like that.
The fishing population was a kind of peculiar make up of boat and cannery plant owners/operators, migrant workers (lots from Asian countries) and the odd college kids there to make a few bucks for school. A local service industry population to service the several large military bases and the other, smaller, seasonal economies was also growing. These groups were slowly growing in size with a pretty normal spread of ideologies. In addition there was a "non-homogeneous" population of many small groups of people with extreme ideologies that ranged the full political spectrum from far left to far right, and anything else you can think of. Some of these people lived alone or in small groups in the wilderness, still looking for gold or some other scheme to eek out a living. All were encouraged at the time, by the state of Alaska with land grants and the like, only requiring them to erect homes or businesses to gain title to the land. In those days a few hundred people made up a notable group of people. And, after the pipeline, people with some cash could readily qualify for a land grant because they had cash to build something. Many did.
That the present population is a disproportionate number, compared to Alaska before the pipeline or the rest of the country as a whole, of Christofacist believers should not be thought of as unusual. Anchorage is by far the largest city in the state, and it is also the seat of the largest liberal contingent. A large state, with few people and big oil money pouring in, quickly led to corruption. That oil companies supported Republicans in this state is pretty much expected. So, without an opposing force from other interests to invest in local politics the GOP became the essentially unopposed party feeding at the trough being filled to overflowing by the oil royalties and oil company interests. Had it been Democrats the oil company selected, they would have been the ones wallowing in corruption from that money. In the last few decades the corruption became obvious to all Alaskans, to the point where it was accepted as "politics."
With the influx of money from oil, the prior population distribution was plowed under. The state of Alaska is now overwhelmingly made up of displaced and first generation native bred Christofacists. They will likely stay that way as long as it doesn't cost them any money. Most have not paid local taxes there for decades as oil royalties pay for most government services (when I lived there you got a royalty check back every year if you were a year round resident), which for many is the true attraction and meaning attached to the "independence" line of bullshit they subscribe to as Alaskans. They have oil and don't need no federal government telling them what to do.
That Palin began her career taking down openly crooked GOP leaders in the state, as FTL noted, likely garnered a bit of their support. But overall I believe Alaskans view politics as fundamentally crooked, and other than the joy derived from watching one Mafia crime family shoot it out with another branch of the same family, there isn't much more to this "80%+" support. In the end most Alaskans would probably not say they will be surprised if Palin turns out to be crooked too.
Now that she seems through with the shoot out with her opposition and her personal politics are about to become the subject of discussion, one could expect those numbers to drop slightly to reflect the actual size of the minority liberals and libertarians represent in Alaska. But that is not the point. The point is how those personal political positions will sell to America. And that will be determined as she is interviewed and debated over the next month and change.
By the way, no "facts" here, really, just my opinion from having lived there thirty years ago or so for several years. I still have buddies there I speak to regularly so there are some of their opinions mixed in but like all politics, it is mostly just opinions anyway. Take it or leave it. Jim