For anyone confused about what the page 69 test is, more on that here. In short, we've taken up Marshall McLuhan's suggestion that opening up a book to page 69 can serve as a pretty good gauge of whether it's something you want to read.

Sasha Issenberg's "The Victory Lab" explores how data-driven analytics have reshaped modern political campaigns. It's quite fitting, then, that page 69 brings us into a 1999 meeting between then-Vice President Al Gore and Hal Malchow, a Democratic consultant who has pioneered many efforts to comb through data and micro-target the most important, potential voters.

We're starting with a paragraph that begins on page 68, to provide some context:

In January 1999, Malchow was summoned to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to meet with the brain trust for Gore's nascent presidential campaign. Machow's PowerPoint peregrinations had brought him a fair bit of notice, if little new business, among Democratic operatives. Now, he was being invited to make the biggest pitch of all: trying to sell a front-running presidential candidate on the value of an altogether new system for targeting a national voter contact program. Malchow had some credibility in Gore's world, thanks to his successful management of the Tennessean's first race for Senate fifteen years earlier ...


The two had had little interaction in the intervening years, but Malchow's impressions of his old boss were confirmed as soon as Gore arrived for the presentation. Gore announced that he had just come from a meeting in his West Wing office with physicist Stephen Hawking, with whom the vice president enjoyed discussing such arcana as how cosmology supercomputers could measure previously imperceptible antigravitational forces. Manna from heaven, Malchow thought. "That's great," he told Gore. "Because I am here to talk about putting some science into this campaign."

"The Victory Lab" came out Sept. 11. You can order it here. All previous page 69 tests are available here.