Biden’s rivals, many of whom have long expected the former vice president to fade, began making comparisons to another Clinton campaign — her failed run in 2008 — last week, after a Biden adviser told reporters that that while Iowa is “critical” and the campaign expects to carry the state, it is not a must-win.

Clinton collapsed in South Carolina, a stronghold for Biden, after then-Sen. Barack Obama’s upset victory in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

“It’s like the corpse is already rotting,” an adviser to one of Biden’s competitors said.

Biden’s appeal to Democrats is so tightly tied to his perceived ability to defeat Trump that if he appears likely to suffer an early loss, one veteran Democratic strategist in Iowa said, “if you take any drop in [polling] support, you might bleed.”