Yet a close reading of Mr. Cruz’s policy prescriptions, influences and writings over two decades, combined with interviews with conservative intellectual leaders and Cruz allies, suggest two powerful truths about the man who might yet assume the mantle of modern conservatism.

He would be the most conservative presidential nominee in at least a half-century, perhaps to the right of Barry Goldwater, testing the electoral limits of a personal ideology he has forged meticulously since adolescence.

And he has, more effectively than almost any politician of his generation, anticipated the rightward tilt of the Republican Party of today, grasping its conservatism even as colleagues dismissed him as a fringe figure…

[A]t its core, Mr. Cruz’s brand of conservatism is the product of decades of careful study and manifest intellectual firepower, fusing a host of historical strands into what the Texas senator has called “opportunity conservatism.”