Cook Political Report

Founded in 1984, The Cook Political Report is an independent, non-partisan publication that analyzes Presidential, House, Senate, and Gubernatorial elections. 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 be expected to complete operational tasks such as answering the phone and assisting subscribers. Interns will also have opportunities to sit in on candidate meetings, subscriber briefings, and other relevant events throughout the summer. 

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. Interns will be expected to provide quality customer service to subscribers. 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

2019 Intern Reflection:

My responsibilities in this internship involve working with my immediate supervisors in a office space at the Watergate complex on a variety of projects, generally involving data entry, research, or even creating exciting visual aids. This internship is full of the vitally important office work required to keep the small staff of the Cook Political Report up, running, and able to deliver quality content to their thousands of subscribers. The Cook Political Report is a small organization, and interns get to do a lot of the critical administrative tasks, enabling them to get a feel of real office culture. Interns are asked to man the phones as well, dealing with customers in need of assistance with their subscriptions; I spend a lot of the day helping these people. In terms of skills learned on the job, I have worked heavily on my Excel proficiency, been actively involved in looking after the financial side of the business by aiding the subscribers with often complex requests, and have been given the opportunity for more substantive research, such as going through the recent judicial history of redistricting reform in the United States and compiling a list of raw vote totals in every Obama-Trump county in America.

I would recommend this internship to anyone who wants to live in a vibrant city with a strong intern culture who is unafraid to dive into important electoral data. I would advise that any interns brush up on their Excel skills, and be willing to invest themselves into long projects with real opportunities to be featured on the website to the thousands of subscribers of the Cook Political Report.

Tom Rollins '22

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, and it 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 in 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 

Washington, D.C.