Two years after being elected on a staunch conservative platform, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, plans to announce his 2016 presidential bid during an event Monday at Liberty University in Virginia. Cruz, 44, would become the first Republican to officially declare his candidacy in what's expected to be a crowded field of GOP contenders for the White House.

Cruz previously announced he would give an “important speech” Monday at Liberty, a major Christian university. The Houston Chronicle confirmed Sunday that the speech would be to announce Cruz's candidacy, and that he aims to raise as much as $50 million during his primary campaign.

The key to an outlier like Cruz winning the GOP nomination will be in luring enough libertarians and social conservatives to overtake whatever candidate is picked by more mainstream Republicans, some political observers say.

"I don't consider him a mainstream candidate, and usually to win you've got to be inside the 45-yard lines," political adviser Greg Valliere told the Chronicle. Valliere estimates that Cruz could face opposition from about two-thirds of Republican voters -- those who either strongly oppose him or are wary of his chances of winning in the general election.

Advisers told CNN that Cruz will forgo forming an exploratory committee and instead dive right into announcing his candidacy. Typically, presidential hopefuls use exploratory committees to gauge public sentiment before committing to a run.

Cruz has earned a reputation as a conservative firebrand who opposed the Affordable Care Act, once giving a 21-hour speech on the Senate floor in an unsuccessful attempt to derail President Barack Obama’s health care law. But the Texas senator ranks low in public opinion polls of self-identified Republicans. A CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday showed Cruz is viewed as “favorable” by only 4 percent of Republicans, down from 7 percent in November.  

The same poll gave the GOP's highest "favorable" marks to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (16 percent), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (13 percent), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (12 percent) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (10 percent). Cruz, meanwhile, finds himself tied with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 4 percent, but both are ahead of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The Real Clear Politics average of five polls through March 15 has Bush and Walker tied as the candidates with the most support among Republicans. Cruz is in eighth place in that poll average.

Watch Ted Cruz's March 16 appearance on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers":