(CNN) - The final votes of the 2008 election are being cast in Georgia this morning, in a race that could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
Polls in the state opened at 7 a.m., and close at 7 this evening in the runoff vote between incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin.
Turnout will be crucial to the outcome of this election, and both sides bet on political superstars in the race’s waning days to help bring out the base. "Generally they can help boost turnout, because of all the media attention," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. "Turnout in a runoff election is often very low compared to a presidential election, and each side needs to get as many of their voters to the polls as possible."
Alaska governor and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin teamed up with Chambliss at four campaign events across Georgia on Monday.
"You Georgians are going to have the opportunity to determine the direction this country is going to take," said Palin during a campaign rally in Perry, in south Georgia. "This election is that important and I know come tomorrow night Georgians are going to speak and Georgia's going to speak with a loud and clear voice. We want to make sure we have at least 41 Republicans in the United States Senate to make sure that we shape bad legislation, or kill bad legislation."
Chambliss had urged Palin to come to Georgia and help him get out the conservative vote. Chambliss was "happy to become the warm-up act at his own final rallies," said CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, who is covering the Georgia runoff election.
Palin added her name to the list of big-name surrogates who have made campaign cameos in the last remaining Senate election this year. Sen. John McCain returned to the trail to campaign with Chambliss just nine days after losing the presidential election to Obama. So have some of his Republican primary rivals, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — all likely 2012 candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, along with Palin.
Martin also received some major-league help. Both former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore have separately teamed up with him. And while Barack Obama resisted Martin's invitation to come down to Georgia in person, the president-elect did lend his voice to a 60-second radio ad that's been running in the state for over a week. And many who worked in Georgia for Obama during the general election campaign are now assisting Martin.
On Monday, Martin teamed up with Rep. John Lewis and other prominent Georgia Democrats before ending the day at a rally at the State Capitol in Atlanta with rapper Ludacris.
Martin called Palin's four campaign stops Monday a sign of desperation for Chambliss, adding that "bringing Sarah Palin is not going to help him (Chambliss) because the voters of Georgia want someone who will stand up for them in Washington. Someone who understands their issues."
This is Georgia's first runoff election for a U.S. Senate seat since 1992, when incumbent Democrat Wyche Fowler won a plurality of the vote on election day but lost the runoff election to Republican Paul Coverdale. State law requires a runoff if no candidate initially receives a majority of the vote.
Democrats have so far picked up seven Senate seats in their quest for a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats, with Republican-held seats in Georgia and Minnesota still undecided. In Minnesota, freshman GOP Sen. Norm Coleman topped Democratic challenger Al Franken by just 215 votes, triggering an automatic recount that will extend well into December.