Palin has provided plenty of fodder for cultural and political analysis, but the strictly economic reason why someone like her could somehow get picked as VP in summer 2008 is captured by this line:
Rising oil prices provided an added lift. Palin was able to increase the annual distribution from the state’s Permanent Fund to about $3,000 per resident, almost double the amount received the previous year. She could be a fiscal conservative and a big spender all at the same time.It's not hard to maintain high approval ratings in your state and generally be regarded as successful when the earth and the global economy are combining to pour forth vast rivers of money. Especially when the circumstances that make you look so good -- $100/barrel oil -- are dragging down all of your competition.