It is also equal to 1/5th of the land mass of the lower 48, therefore more infrastructure is required. There is also a much more racially diverse populace than what you enjoy around Chicago. Name any ethnic group you may wish to, and you will find them in AK, in addition to some you've never dreamed even existed. Getting an 80-90% approval rating out of that crowd is very telling about an elected official in that state. I lived in AK when Palin was elected. No one could figure out how in the world she ever beat a GOP incumbent and former 3-term senator, as well as a heavily favored state senator in the primaries, then turned around and beat a former 2-term governor in the general election. She was, after all, ridiculously outspent by her opponents in both elections. As it turned out, that was by and large exactly why Alaskans voted for her. It was a mandate she took seriously. As for Wasilla, it's grown rather considerably over the past 10 or so years. In fact, there was serious consideration given to moving the state capital to Wasilla from Juneau in recent years. Knock being the mayor of a town "of less than 10,000 people" if you wish, but you're not going to hear the whole story from Keith Olbermann or Wolf Blitzer.