"The people of Alaska, many of them got tired of the ego issues out there with longer-term federal and state officials and said enough is enough," said John Harris, the Republican speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives.
But he added that Palin has proved to be, as she was in Wasilla, "not a great communicator." She has alienated enough Republicans that "without a very large contingent of Democrats supporting her positions, she can't get anything accomplished," Harris said.
Palin is also embroiled in an ongoing investigation over the firing of the state public safety commissioner, who said he was pressured by Palin's husband and her staff to fire Palin's former brother-in-law. The former brother-in-law, a state trooper, has been involved in a messy divorce and child custody dispute with the governor's sister.
McCain campaign surrogates were spreading the word Friday that Palin would appeal to women because of her ability to juggle five children and her political career.
Her bookends, the oldest and the youngest, have made this a bittersweet season for Palin.
Her oldest, Track, joined the Army last Sept. 11 and will depart for Iraq shortly. Her youngest, Trig, was born this spring with Down syndrome, a condition his parents were aware of before his birth.
"Many people will express sympathy, but you don't want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You have to trust me on this," the Anchorage Daily News said she wrote in an e-mail to relatives and friends, in the voice of "Trig's Creator, your Heavenly Father."
Palin's evangelical faith shapes her social views; she opposes abortion and believes creationism should be taught in public schools.
The vice presidential selection came as a surprise not only to the political establishment but to Palin's family. A CBS News producer said Chuck and Sally Heath were called Friday morning by Palin's husband and told to "listen to the radio."
This spring, when the governor's name surfaced as a potential running mate, Palin told the Anchorage paper that her advantage was that she happened to "fit a demographic" in the Republican Party.
"That's the reality," she said. "It's gender, it's age, it's kind of the maverick being from the outside."
On Friday she was as far on the inside as she could get.
Times staff writers Mark Z. Barabak, Kim Murphy and Maura Reynolds contributed to this article.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
A timeline of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's life and career
1964: Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, to Sally Heath, a secretary, and Charles Heath, a teacher. A few months later, the family moves to Alaska.
1982: Graduates from Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska. A star point guard, she earns the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" and leads the Wasilla girls' basketball team to the state championship.
1984: Wins the Miss Wasilla beauty contest (where she is also named Miss Congeniality). Later that year she is a runner-up in the Miss Alaska competition.
1987: Graduates with a bachelor's degree in journalism (with a minor in political science) from the University of Idaho.
1988: Marries Todd Palin, her high school sweetheart. They go on to have five children, Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig.
1992: Is elected to the Wasilla City Council, where she serves two terms.
1996: Elected mayor of Wasilla; serves two terms.
2002: Loses her first statewide campaign, for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, coming in second in a five-way race. Named chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski.
2003: Resigns from the commission in protest over what she calls the "lack of ethics" of fellow Alaskan Republican leaders, including Randy Ruedrich, the head of Alaska's Republican Party.
2006: Elected governor, after defeating Murkowski in the GOP primary, becoming the state's youngest and first female chief executive.
2007: Successfully pressures lawmakers to pass the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act to build a pipeline to deliver to market natural gas from the North Slope, which has 35 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves.
Aug. 29, 2008: Chosen as Sen. John McCain's vice presidential running mate.
Sources: Associated Press and Times reporting