Star City Politics
The area has typically been Roanoke City being heavily democratic with the County and Salem being moderately Republican. After redistricting, many districts in the area were therefore drawn into Botetourt and Franklin County to ensure GOP victories. Even so, Roanoke is showing signs of GOP strength in recent years with the election of Ralph Smith as mayor and Octavia Johnson as Sheriff. This area, like most of SWVA is becoming more Republican. Bush only lost the City 52-48 in '04, which is much better than most "cities".
I would add Montgomery County (Blacksburg/Christisansburg) to this "metro area" since Montgomery's 2 Senators, John Edwards and Brandon Bell, havetheir districts in Roanoke as well. Montgomery is made of basically 2 parts: Christiansburg and rural areas being heavily Republican and Blacksburg being heavily democratic. Demographics are changing though, even Jim Shuler's 12th district delegate seat in Blacksburg was drawn to be a safe dem seat, but Bush actually won it 51-49.
Now we just need to transfer the federal election success in this area to state elections. This is largely due to SWVA not voting party as much as most areas. In 2004 Rep. Rick Boucher got 60% in the same district that Bush got 59%. Conversely, in 2005 Octavia Johnson got 51% when Kaine got 62% in Roanoke City. SWVA voters seem to be much more "vote for the person not the party" type people. I don't think there is anything we can do to change that.