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