There’s a school of thought, pioneered in Australia by Andrew Leigh at the ANU, that says betting markets are the most reliable guide to election outcomes. So Canberra-watchers will be interested by the market Centrebet is offering on the Liberal Party leadership.

The question is who will be leader at the next federal election: John Howard is a firm favourite at 6-4 on, followed by Peter Costello at 5-4 against, Brendan Nelson at 8-1 and Tony Abbott at 14-1. The top two have been steady for the last couple of weeks, but the odds have been shortening on Nelson and lengthening on Abbott.

Although Nelson gets the occasional run, most media commentary still assumes that Abbott is the greater rival to Costello for the succession – indeed, for what it’s worth, so do I. But the punters are apparently on a different track. As the leadership contest hots up over the next year, it will be worth keeping an eye on where the money is going.