Some Mainers are decrying the strong presence of so-called “negative ads” in the just-concluded state election campaign.

Those with long memories even hark back to a halcyon past when campaigns were perceived as contests of ideas. Candidate A would present his program, endorsements, loyal family or whatever, and Candidate B would do the same with hers.

Neither side, the narrative goes, dared suggest that A’s fiscal plan was nonsensical gibberish, or that B’s education reforms were dumber than a bag of rocks. Or, for that matter, that one or the other was a congenital liar, mentally unbalanced or a fugitive from justice.

Truth is, those days may have existed once, but they are long gone and are not likely to return. That’s true despite independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler’s claim in his concession speech on Wednesday that his surge to a near-victory in the face of a barrage of negative ads has ended them in Maine.

Would that it were so. But it is not likely to work out that way.

Fact is, for every candidate who can credibly say that an opponent’s unfair and inaccurate criticisms backfired on their sponsor, there are several other candidates (now being called everything from “mayor” or “councilor” to “senator,” “representative” or “governor” in various parts of the nation) who discovered that “going negative” had a positive result on the final tally.

The effectiveness of such ads has long intrigued political scientists. Studies dating back decades have found that attack ads, as negative ads are also called, may not raise the vote tally of their sponsors, but they can discourage uncommitted voters from turning out, thus creating at least a relative advantage.

Other studies claim that negative ads are more effective if they reinforce an existing belief or marketing campaign (Republicans hate the poor, Democrats are big spenders) or claim to present new information being kept secret by the other side.

The studies also found that positive ads defending the target candidates failed to carry as much weight in voters’ minds as counterattack ads did. True, an overdone negative campaign can rebound on its sponsor, but that outcome is uncommon.

So, like it or not, Maine (and everywhere else) has not and will not see the end of negative ads.

But remember, every negative ad has a candidate behind it whose opponent would appreciate your vote.

And recall, too, that every remote control has a “mute” button.