AP Political Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Virginia's two most popular statewide elected officials, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, are each lending their allies in the Senate race a hand in a frantic, photo-finish final weekend before Tuesday's election.
Meanwhile, Republican George Allen is effectively lending his campaign $500,000, secured through a bank line of credit in his name, to see his campaign through the final five days of his close U.S. Senate race against Democrat Tim Kaine.
As the Virginia race that both parties consider essential to control of the U.S. Senate enters its final weekend, a new poll shows Kaine with a slight and shrinking edge over Allen.
Quinnipiac University's survey of 1,074 likely Virginia voters shows Kaine leading Allen, 50-46 percent. The poll's sampling error margin is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Kaine zig-zagged across Virginia on Thursday with his political patron, Warner, his predecessor as governor.
In rallying volunteers at President Barack Obama's campaign office in downtown Charlottesville, Warner, a Democratic moderate and habitual consensus builder in a Senate paralyzed by partisanship, sought to confer some of his reputation onto Kaine, who as governor moonlighted for one year as Obama's handpicked chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
The partisan crowd of activists, taking a break from end-of-campaign get-out-the-vote efforts in this Democratic-voting college town, bought Warner's message. But will an electorate nearly overdosed on nasty politics?
"The answer is I'm not sure," said Warner, whose popularity when he stepped down as governor helped carry Kaine, then lieutenant governor, into the Executive Mansion. "I hope it helps, but it's hard to measure. It's hard to figure out in any scientific way. Sometimes I think it's more helpful when you've got a candidate who is not as well known, but with Tim and George, you've got well-known candidates."
In Doswell, about 60 miles to the east, Allen spent the afternoon with McDonnell and basked in the glow of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who polls show is in toss-up race with Obama just one month after those same polls showed Obama leading.
Allen will spend much more of the weekend with McDonnell, say aides to the governor and to Allen's campaign, and do a cameo Saturday with Romney running mate Paul Ryan during an in-and-out tarmac stop at a private aircraft hangar at Richmond International Airport.
Kaine, too, will share the stage with the top of his party's ticket, attending at least one rally Saturday in Bristow with Obama, former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb and, perhaps, Warner.
When the president and Romney stump with their ticket-mates, the spotlight remains fixed on the men in the race for the White House. Kaine and Allen are afterthoughts. That makes Warner and McDonnell their most important validators because they not only are the most powerful figures in their respective state parties, but because polls show they are Virginia's most popular statewide elected officials.
A September Quinnipiac poll showed Warner with a job approval rating of 64 percent among 1,368 registered Virginia voters surveyed, and McDonnell virtually tied with him at 62 percent. The poll's margin of sampling error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
Allen, a beneficiary of nearly $29 million spent by independent outside groups promoting him or opposing Kaine, personally guaranteed a $500,000 line of credit to his campaign earlier this week.
An Allen campaign spokeswoman said the loan did not mean the campaign had gone into debt, but provides it "maximum flexibility to access funds we have raised and continue to raise online and through credit card donations."
Kaine has benefited from nearly $20 million that independent groups have spent either to boost him or attack Allen.
More has been spent by outside groups independent of campaigns in the Allen-Kaine race than any other U.S. Senate race in the country, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics and its Web site, OpenSecrets.org. Wisconsin placed second in outside spending at $43.5 million.
Outside spending by state: http://bit.ly/bItE5y
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Oct. 31 poll: http://bit.ly/Sit3K6
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