Due to SE's ordering algorithms, it appears that the asker's selected answer usually appears as the first, followed by other answers in descending order of points.
It therefore appears that late answers have a hard time rising to the top, even if they are objectively better, since relatively fewer people scroll to the bottom. Of course, this is a necessary evil.
If a "late answer" is defined as the link, what proportion of them end up rising to the highest ranking answer? (asker changing the selected question doesn't count, since it does not suffer from the problem). I understand this would differ based on the SE site, so specific site and general SE statistics are all reasonable answers to this question.