Ms. Vavreck and I tracked several qualities relevant to this message, with arguably the most relevant being whether Mr. Romney “cares about people like me.” Here is the trend in that indicator throughout the campaign…

What this graph shows is fairly remarkable, given this narrative about the Obama campaign “defining” Mr. Romney. Obama’s advantage on this indicator — an advantage Democratic presidential candidates have traditionally had — was in place in January 2012 and never shifted much during the entire campaign. When Ms. Vavreck and I looked more closely at the trend in battleground states, we saw little notable movement in the spring and summer.

So perhaps “front-loading” the ads, as Mr. Axelrod described it on Politico.com, wasn’t as effective as many believe.