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Candidate Entry and Political Polarization: An Experimental Study

Großer, Jens and Palfrey, Thomas R. (2019) Candidate Entry and Political Polarization: An Experimental Study. American Political Science Review, 113 (1). pp. 209-225. ISSN 0003-0554. doi:10.1017/S0003055418000631.

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We report the results of a laboratory experiment based on a citizen–candidate model with private information about ideal points. Inefficient political polarization is observed in all treatments; that is, citizens with extreme ideal points enter as candidates more often than moderate citizens. Second, less entry occurs, with even greater polarization, when voters have directional information about candidates’ ideal points, using ideological party labels. Nonetheless, this directional information is welfare enhancing because the inefficiency from greater polarization is outweighed by lower entry expenses and better voter information. Third, entry rates are decreasing in group size and the entry cost. These findings are all implied by properties of the unique symmetric Bayesian equilibrium cutpoint pair of the entry game. Quantitatively, we observe too little (too much) entry when the theoretical entry rates are high (low). This general pattern of observed biases in entry rates is implied by logit quantal response equilibrium.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemWorking Paper ItemReplication Materials
Palfrey, Thomas R.0000-0003-0769-8109
Additional Information:© 2018 American Political Science Association. Published online: 13 November 2018. We thank participants at the Public Policy and Social & Economic Behavior Conference, Cologne; 1st Southwest Experimental and Behavioral Economics Conference, UC Irvine; North-American ESA meeting, Tucson; Venice Political Economy Conference; 7th Social Dilemmas Meeting, UMass; Behavioral Models of Politics Conference, Duke; and at seminars at Beijing Normal, Bocconi, Caltech, Columbia, USC, and UQAM for their helpful comments. Großer acknowledges support from the CEC-COFRS Award, Florida State University. Palfrey acknowledges support from NSF (SES-1426560), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (SES-1158), and a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar Fellowship (2014–15). Replication materials can be found on Dataverse at:
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Florida State UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationSES-1158
Russell Sage FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190228-143118586
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Official Citation:GROßER, J., & PALFREY, T. (2019). Candidate Entry and Political Polarization: An Experimental Study. American Political Science Review, 113(1), 209-225. doi:10.1017/S0003055418000631
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:93360
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Feb 2019 23:09
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 16:57

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