'Post-rationalisation' is the new 'smart money'. Over the last year, we're getting more used to after-the-event explaining than we are at placing our bets right first time around.

Pollsters and the bookmakers all used to be quite good at reading the entrails. We hung on to their every word, slide our tenners across the counter at the bookies and plan our future lives with some confidence. Then came a Conservative majority at the General Election, Jeremy Corbyn romping home to the leadership of Labour, and the Brexit result. Not to mention the rise of Donald Trump. It's all made Leicester City's triumph look predictable.

So smart money isn't so clever these days, and we're becoming used to being given a catalogue of evidence to show why that shock event was, actually, always inevitable all along. If only we'd known. The hindsight pundits are winning the battle with the futurologists.

Tory candidates
From left: Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Theresa MayGetty Images

So when everyone settles back and expects Theresa May to glide easily and humourlessly to the front door of Number 10, it may be time to get the hindsight in early. She has the backing of the Conservative Parliamentary Party. She is, surely, unstoppable. And yet...

If you were in Angela Leadsom's campaign office, you'd be far from disheartened. Aside from the 'well, no-one's got anything right this year' approach, there is plenty of online evidence that what plays well for May in the media and the Parliamentary party doesn't translate so well outside of that bubble.

The social media analysis Impact Social looked at sentiment on social media, forums and open news platforms around Leadsom, from the point of view of her campaign managers. Their evidence is that, once this gets out of Westminster, and if Leadsom can keep ahead of Michael Gove and survive into the play-offs between her and May, then all is far from lost for her.

Graph 1

The general feeling around Leadsom was 58% positive and only 19% overtly negative. There was some evidence, though, that exposure of a number of issues could be a serious weakness. The notion that she shared a CV ghostwriter with Jeffrey Archer, for example, had 24% of mentions surrounding 'back-tracking' or 'lies' and issues around her tax history attracted attention too (13% of mentions). While her maddest idea, of getting the BBFC to rate the entire internet slid past most people (a mere 4% of mentions), there was a chunky number (47%) discussing whether she was fit to lead.

Yet successful candidates don't need broad consensus. They can be divisive, they just need a small majority to feel strongly in favour (which is why that 58% positive rating is important).

Graph 2

And the country, including the Tory Party, has been seriously divided by the European question, so Leadsom's position as the enthusiastic Brexiteer (compared with other candidate's 'let's not rush this' approach) up against the reluctant Remainer May is noted by 36% of social mentions. While Gove was a (slow-moving) Brexiteer too, he is tarnished by his political serial killing which has, of course, put Boris Johnson firmly behind Leadsom (meriting 7% of mentions, the same hit rate as the #NoWayMay hashtag).

So while Leadsom might be the right-wing, quick-Brexit candidate and while that might alienate plenty, May could yet be thwarted. Those to the extremes of the main political parties have sway - as Corbyn has swung Labour left, there may be an equal and opposite reaction on the right. May used to be seen as the authoritarian Home Secretary, her current, more centrist position may count against her in the Shires, where they do things differently. Great swathes of Tories didn't follow May's (admittedly lacklustre) lead to Remain, and she could be about to pay a delayed price on that.

The EU vote has produced no winners. The post-Brexit fallout has cost Cameron, Johnson, Farage and Gove and it may well be that we need someone who feels like she starts from a different place from all those familiar faces. She doesn't exactly personify a new kind of politics, but she is a fresh face to many (an idea which cropped up many times in the mentions) and, after a referendum which everyone seemed to lose we could finally have someone who comes out on top from all this. Leadsom, for all her many weaknesses, could be the only Brexiteer to really win big.

But don't put your money on it.