Cook Political Report

Founded in 1984 The Cook Political Report is an independent, non-partisan e-newsletter that analyzes elections for President, the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and Governors, as well as overall political trends.  Its founder, editor, and publisher, Charlie Cook, was an IOP Residential Fellow during the spring semester of 2013.  The Cook Political Report’s subscribers include lobbyists, trade associations, corporations, labor unions, Members of Congress, political action committees and interest groups across the political spectrum. All have come to rely upon The Cook Political Report for objective information and analysis about the political dynamics that will drive an election, which races are competitive and why, who is running in each state and congressional district, and where each contest stands. 

Director’s interns can expect to assist with a variety of tasks, including research projects, daily tracking of publicly available polling information, and data input.  They will also have opportunities to sit in on candidate meetings, subscriber briefings, and other relevant events throughout the summer.  The exact nature of the work will be directed by the specific analyst the intern is working with; our Senior Senate/Gov Editor Jennifer Duffy, House Editor David Wasserman, or our National Editor Amy Walter. The position will focus on several larger research projects, along with day-to-day interaction with subscribers and weekly publication support tasks.

Ideal candidates will be independently driven students with strong writing and research skills who possess the ability to comfortably juggle multiple responsibilities across a variety of subject matters. Additionally, the environment within which we conduct business requires interns to be able to deal with a range of political issues and candidates in an objective, apolitical manner.

Qualifications include:

  • Superior research and analytical skills;
  • Excellent writing and oral communication skills;
  • The ability to work both independently and as a member of a team;
  • Exceptional attention to detail


2018 Intern Reflection:

The Cook Political Report offers an amazing internship for anyone even remotely interested in U.S. elections.  Although the organization is, technically, dedicated to political journalism, it is unique in its exclusive focus on elections and scrupulous non-partisanship.  During my internship, I was tasked (among other things) with conducting candidate research, tracking polls, working with subscribers, clearing the Cook inbox, and creating data visualizations.  Because Cook is a small organization, this variety of tasks helped keep me engaged  and allowed me to work alongside all of the team members.  (Location is also a plus; with its offices in the Watergate, Cook is a short stroll from the GW University Summer Housing.)

The Cook internship provides more than enough work to keep you busy, andit also offers substantial freedom to pursue your own interests and explore the wider world of political journalism.  From attending shootings of PBS NewsHour with Amy to having my work tweeted by Dave Wasserman, I would have found the internship enriching and enjoyable even if it had not been an election year! Because of the breadth of experiences it fosters, I believe a Cook internship would be beneficial to anyone looking to start a career on the Beltway, regardless of industry.

Jacob Link '19

2017 Intern Reflection: 

I cannot think of a better place for me to have interned this past summer than the Cook Political Report. This internship was both engaging and packed full with a wide range of tasks and activities while simultaneously flexible and relaxed. Because I interned in an election off-year, there was more time to explore my specific interests. I was able to ask analysts for feedback and even mentorship on research projects I myself was interested in. The Cook’s small, six-person office really fostered that room for initiative coupled with careful mentorship. The very first day I was able to attend PBS NewsHour with Amy Walter, the Cook analyst covering national politics. That initial excitement carried on throughout the whole internship every time I walked into The Watergate for work with trips to different news stations, talks with Charlie Cook, and other events throughout DC. One of the best parts of interning with Cook was how much the team encouraged the interns to get the most of out our time in DC. As such, they were extremely flexible with letting me attend lunches at places like the Washington Post or Facebook with the IOP and they even allowed me to go to the Hill for conferences that interested me. Other highlights included attending the Congressional Women's softball game versus news reporters to cheer on the Cook's own Amy Walter and being able to present my own project displaying my take on a potential Cook podcast.

Daily tasks included finding data and logging information into charts, regular intern activities like answering phone calls and clearing out the general inbox daily, and, best of all, doing directly impactful work for the analysts when they assigned research projects relevant to their individual work. I would gather and summarize prep information for talks the analysts would do, proof articles, and put together polling charts for past and upcoming elections. I was able to get feedback on my own research project that I hope to continue in the fall. I believe Harvard well equipped me to ask questions and take initiative over my internship. I can only imagine the responsibility and excitement of interning for the Cook during an election year. I recommend the Cook to everyone interested at all in politics or journalism!

Ameerah Ahmad '19 

2016 Intern Reflection

I simply cannot say enough great things about my summer with the Cook Political Report. From my first day, I was involved in political research and analysis beyond anything I had ever worked on in the past. The office is small, which gave me the opportunity to develop relationships with each of the exceptionally talented staff members. Working in a presidential election year further charged the environment. Each day was full with new research ideas from senior staff members that we interns pursued. Any Director’s Intern with the Cook Report is lucky to get to work with editors that bring such insight and expertise to the political fray; it certainly cuts through the morass of daily coverage that seems to dominate news cycles during election years.

The Cook Political Report may be the last place in Washington where “non-partisan” truly means just that. It’s difficult to underscore just how much credibility the Cook Report has built over the years as an unbiased source, and how especially important that is now in a more polarized environment. It was a special experience to meet candidates, conduct research, and contribute to reporting with an eye solely on what will happen, rather than what should happen.

I have always been passionate about politics, and the Cook Political Report allowed me to expand my knowledge to another level. I absolutely recommend Cook to anyone fascinated by campaigns and elections.

David Cohn '19

2015 Intern Reflection:

My Director’s Internship at the Cook Political Report could not have been more positive. Beginning my very first day, when I participated in a meeting with a candidate for congressional office, I was involved in a host of engaging projects and events. Perhaps what I appreciate most about my time at Cook was the ample opportunities to connect with a truly expert and talented senior staff. I had the chance to work directly with the organization’s House of Representatives editor, and many of my tasks involved assisting him with his own projects and conducting research on individual candidates and districts throughout the country. Additionally, everyone in the small office was exceedingly friendly throughout my internship, eager to discuss my own interests, and more than willing to share details of their own work.

Interning during an “off-year” in the election cycle was particularly interesting, as I quickly learned that nothing ever stops in the world of electoral politics. I enjoyed watching the wheels begin to spin on a number of campaigns—from high-profile presidential declarations of candidacy to more obscure individuals running in House districts throughout the country. I sat in on interviews with candidates, listened to speeches by members of the Cook staff, and attended a variety of events around D.C. Throughout my internship, my supervisors were generally quite flexible with my assignments, allowing me to focus on the projects that interested me most.

Interning at the Cook Political Report allowed me to expand on my great interest in United States elections while simultaneously providing an interesting lens through which to consider current political and policy debates. I highly recommend this Director’s Internship to anyone looking for a memorable, stimulating, and rewarding summer experience.

David Steinbach '16

Washington, D.C.
Communications/Press, Research