Previous studies on flexible-list systems demonstrate that party selectorates promote candidates with a high number of preference votes to better list positions in the next election. This research note asks whether these rank promotions are limited to candidates in unrealistic list positions at the lower end of the ballot or also include candidates moving into realistic list positions (i.e. electorally safer highest ranks). Using a longitudinal data set of candidates for 18 parliamentary elections in Flanders (Belgium), we first successfully replicate the earlier established preference vote-effect on future list positions, but subsequently show that promotions from unrealistic to realistic positions are relatively rare. Moreover, preference votes do not seem to affect the ability to move upwards on the list or to receive a realistic position at the next election when controlling for incumbency and list position at the previous election. Robustness tests using different operationalizations for realistic position lead to similar empirical results. Preference votes do not seem to matter for realistic list positions.