Tim Alberta documents for National Review Online readers Texas Sen. Ted Cruz‘s assessment of the 2016 Republican presidential landscape.

Ted Cruz can see himself on a collision course with Marco Rubio, barreling toward a head-to-head battle with his fellow senator for the Republican nomination — that is, if Rubio can deliver on his end of the deal.

In a wide-ranging interview here Thursday, Cruz predicted that the GOP race will boil down to the familiar dynamic of an establishment favorite squaring off against a conservative challenger after they claim victories in New Hampshire and Iowa, respectively. “I believe I will be that conservative candidate,” Cruz says. “I don’t know who the moderate candidate will be.”

The Texas senator says he has consolidated the conservative “lane” of the race — thanks to the exits of Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal as well as to the fade of Ben Carson — and is confident he will win Iowa and become one of the two finalists. “I don’t believe we have peaked,” he says when asked about surging to the top of several Iowa polls this week, and about the potential danger in taking the lead there seven weeks from the caucuses.

Cruz’s confidence owes to his campaign, an Obama-style grassroots-heavy operation that prioritizes direct voter contact and ground organization. So certain of his operational superiority has the senator become that he dons his strategist cap gleefully and discusses the most granular details of his polling enterprise and outreach program. Moreover, he mocks the approach taken by Rubio’s campaign, which is famously allergic to process stories and defiantly dependent on media buys. At one point Cruz suggests that his rival is “hiding from the grassroots” and running for president “from a TV studio.”