Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden responds to GOP senator’s impeachment warningSanders leads in Iowa ahead of caucus: pollThe Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in IowaMOREs campaign team is setting expectations low for the Iowa caucuses on Monday night. 

While some campaign aides were unsure how the results would turn out hours before the caucuses would begin, they expressed some apprehension about the outcome. 

Most (aides) feel its not going to be great, one longtime Biden ally who has had conversations with the former vice president and others inside the campaign, acknowledged on Monday. 

Bidens aides and allies said they were hoping to place in the top three. But even if they fall short, the campaign is built for the long haul, one Biden confidant.

Biden himself said in an interview with NBC that my gut tells me things are going well. Still, he added, that the results would be close.

The latest poll in the state by Emerson College and Channel 7 News Iowa showed Biden trailing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders leads in Iowa ahead of caucus: pollThe Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in IowaKerry denies considering presidential bid: ‘Any report otherwise is categorically false’MORE (I-Vt.) by seven points, 28 percent to 21 percent. Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders leads in Iowa ahead of caucus: pollThe Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in IowaIowa poll snafu leaves Democrats guessing on eve of caucusesMORE, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., came in third with 15 percent. 

A separate poll by CBS News poll conducted by YouGov on Sunday showed that Biden was tied with Sanders at 25 percent.  

Another much-anticipated poll from the Des Moines Register and CNN was cancelled over the weekend after at least one reviewer omitted Buttigiegs name from one of the interviews conducted. 

Since entering the race last April, Biden has reiterated that he is the most electable Democrat to oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump shares then deletes tweet praising Chiefs for representing ‘Great State of Kansas’Ken Bone endorses Andrew Yang for president: ‘#YangGang all the way!’Loeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bidMORE. He has also said he is the only Democrat who has replicated the so-called Obama coalition, drawing support from across the Democratic Party. 

Im the only one with broad support, he said in a separate interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News which aired on Monday morning. 

The expectations-setting is typical of campaigns, who have a lot of incentive to avoid a spiral of negative news coverage if their candidate does not perform up to expectations.

But it’s an especially tricky prospect for Biden, who has been running at the top of the polls for more than a year now.

The effort to manage expectations for Biden in Iowa underscores the precarious nature of his frontrunner status, particularly amid the rise of Sanders, whose supporters have an intensity and enthusiasm that Biden has been unable to match.

The problem, some Biden allies say, is that expectations for most of the candidates besides Sanders are also low, potentially setting-up another moderate candidate, such as Buttigieg or Klobuchar, to outperform and leave Iowa with a burst of momentum.

If Amy or Pete does better than expected and is getting a ton of buzz going into New Hampshire, thats really bad for Biden, said one Democrat who has raised money for Biden. The longer there are more moderate candidates fighting over table scraps while Bernie gains strength, the more narrow the path gets for him going forward.

Biden does appear to have the luxury of underperforming in Iowa, as his allies can credibly argue that Bidens core constituency of black voters will be there to turn out for him in South Carolina and in the more diverse Super Tuesday states, such as Texas, North Carolina and Virginia.

The Iowa caucuses are totally up in the air, especially this year with so many candidates running and the weird way that voters will realign and the different ways the results will be reported, said one Democrat who has raised money for Biden. If Biden wins Iowa, thats great. If not, hes got big plans for other states and has made that clear for a while. The campaign still thinks they have a great shot at winning this thing no matter what happens in Iowa.

Kelly Dietrich, a veteran Democratic fundraiser and the CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee agreed that Biden, perhaps more than anyone has the fairly unique ability to play the long game here.

No matter what happens in Iowa, hell be competitive moving forward, Dietrich said. Hes the most well-known and only candidate in this race that nearly every Democrat has voted for twice as vice president. Theres a lot of undecided people still and so many ways this could play out, but Biden will be in it regardless.

Maybe more so than other candidates, hes in a strong position in the remaining early-voting states like South Carolina and then going into Super Tuesday, its a whole different calculushell be able to compete anywhere because of his experience and long relationships with voters.