Stacey Abrams would have put the Georgia Senate race into the toss-up category if she had decided to go for it, but she knew the risks. “She might get to 48 and a half, but not to 50,” says Carville. And she’d be damaged if not done by a second losing race. She has a much better chance winning a rematch for governor than getting Georgia voters to send her to Washington.

“Red state voters will take a flyer on electing a Democrat governor, but they don’t want a foot soldier for Chuck Schumer or whatever horrible person they connect you to,” says Matt Bennett, a co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic group. Republicans face the same dynamic when they seek a Senate seat in a blue state.

That all explains why Abrams has not ruled out a late entry into the presidential race, but she’s clear about rejecting the Senate. She prefers being an executive, and the Senate is a deliberative body where everything moves slowly, if it moves at all. “Why kill yourself for a job you don’t want?” says Carville.