Today is primary day here in Pennsylvania, as well as in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island. Voters usually have less information about the candidates running in the primaries than they do about the candidates in November's general elections. On top of that, there is less distinction between candidates in the primaries since the elections are between candidates of the same party: Democrats versus Democrats; Republicans versus Republicans. At this stage voters' main source of information on the candidates comes from campaign advertisments. So, how can you make the right choice with such limited knowledge?
I would suggest that you vote against candidates that offer the most dishonest advertisements. Lies, false implications, and misleading statistics are all signs that a candidate is unwilling to stand on the issues alone, and instead will resort to fooling the public to win. This is a sign of intellectual weakness.
Not all attack ads are the same. Many accurately criticize an opponent's stance on the issues, which should be fair game. Below is an example of a fair attack ad from Matt Cartwright, a Pennsylvania Democrat, running for congress against the incumbent Tim Holden.
Cartwright's ads stick to the issues, giving an accurate account of Holden's positions. On the other hand, Holden's ad against Cartwright (shown below) is an example of an attack ad that just misleads voters.
This ad implies that Cartwright supported the kids for cash scandal, in which judges were found to be receiving kickbacks for sending kids to private juvenile detention facilities. That implication, however, is purely fiction. Nobody, including Cartwright, was aware of the judges' corrupt actions until they made headlines. Holden knew this, yet chose to run this ad and deceive gullible voters.
By carefully looking at the ads the candidates create, you can gauge the difference between candidates, and do your part to promote honest politics by electing politicians with integrity.