More important to his electoral fortunes, Cruz received critical endorsements and millions of dollars’ worth of contributions and other forms of support from the likes of Gov. Palin, who campaigned for him; Tea Party hero and fundraising powerhouse Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; the D.C.-based Tea Party group FreedomWorks, which is led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey; the anti-tax, pro-free market group Club for Growth, whose top executive is former Rep. Chris Chocola, R-Pa.; conservative columnist and ABC News commentator George F. Will; and National Review, the venerated magazine founded by the late William F. Buckley, Jr.

Ted Cruz, in short, was an establishment candidate in his own right.

“It is time to think differently about the Tea Party,” said Darrell West, a political scientist at the Brookings Institution. “In the early days, the Tea Party was basically a grassroots movement, didn’t have a lot of prominent people behind them, didn’t have a lot of money. But now they have big money. They can bring outside resources into a state election, and prove to be very decisive. So they are getting institutionalized as a movement: They have major political figures who are behind them; they have money that is behind them. So they have emerged as a different type of ‘establishment’ organization.”