More important than the individual candidates is the candidate's party affiliation. Each party has written a document called their national platform in which they describe what their political agenda is, what direction they want to take legislation, the budget and policies. As a member of that party and beholden to that party for election the candidate must claim allegiance to that party and its platform. As can be seen in the Akin race the individual beliefs and traits of the candidate, no matter how repugnant, are not centrally important. What is important is that the man is running as a Republican and the Republicans need him to be elected to hold the Republican seat. They don't care if it is Akin or a giraffe as long as the creature in the seat votes Republican. The same can be said of the Democrats. There is very little tolerance today for senators and representatives of either party to listen impartially to the debate and then decide on the merits of the legislation how to vote what they think is best. As far as both parties are concerned the thinking is done for them. Their vote is the property of their party and the party will find ways to force compliance. With the understanding that you are voting for a party line and not so much the individual, it is imperative that the party platforms be read and understood. As dense and lengthy as they are they are more of a cue to how the individual candidate will vote once in office then anything they say or do on the campaign trail.
Reading both of these is a struggle but will be far more informative then watching ads and listening to speeches as these documents describe the party agenda....what the party leadership believe in, what they are going to work to accomplish and what they will be expecting their party representatives to support and vote accordingly. Don't be distracted by the names of the individuals on the ballot line. Vote for the platform which most fits your views as that is more reflective of the reality of what the candidate will actually work toward once elected.