Press & Media: Tom Rollins '22

Tom Rollins
Tom Rollins

Throughout this summer, we will be spotlighting the summer experiences of our IOP students working in politics and public service through their internships across the country and globe.

The Director’s Internship program has been a signature of the Institute of Politics for nearly 25 years and each summer the IOP works with more than 150 government offices, non-profits, and news organizations to provide internships for students who are looking to pursue careers in politics and public service. The IOP also offers summer stipends for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors accepting non- or low-paying summer internships in local, state, or federal government, public interest groups, non-governmental organizations, political organizations, and political campaigns.

This summer, as in years past, many of those students will be spending their summer working in press & media - gaining experience in newsrooms and media organizations across the country.

Tom Rollins '22 is spending his summer interning at The Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C.

What inspired you to choose this public service internship?

My family has never watched sports. A Superbowl, World Series, or Wimbledon can come and go, and nobody at home will notice. Instead, our "spectator sport" has been politics. The recent Democratic debates, election night on CNN-- these are the moments which have brought us together to watch live events anxiously on television. Growing up in DC with a family active in public service, I feel like politics is almost in my blood. My favorite element of the political world has always been elections, researching questions like "can a Democrat actually win in Arizona's 6th congressional district?" and "what factors have contributed to the collapse of the GOP in California?" have always been compelling to me. A main source for any election junkie is the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan, independent newsletter which has analyzed elections dating back to its founding in the mid-1980s. So when I saw the Institute of Politics offered an internship at the Cook Political Report, I felt like I was a perfect fit. I am glad to have had the opportunity to work alongside people who also share my love for electoral politics.

What issues have you been focusing on in your internship?

I am hoping to get a real understanding of how American elections are won and lost. Politicians have tried to understand how to win elections since this country was founded, and having the chance to dive deeply into electoral data and analyze the voting patterns of the American people through blue-wave and red-wave elections alike gives real insight into the national and local factors which motivate the American people to vote the way they do. The Cook Political Report is one of the few publications which takes a nearly singular focus on finding these answers, and it has been a privilege to work with them over the last 10 weeks.

What are you most excited about working in public service and government?

Government, for better or for worse, is an inexorable part of American life. Understanding how people get elected and stay in office is exciting and important, because those people have control over the direction our country takes in the months, years, and decades to come.

What have you learned from/gotten out of your internship experience this summer?

This internship has provided great opportunities to meet with the editors of the Cook Report (Charlie Cook, Jennifer Duffy, Amy Walter, and Dave Wasserman), who are highly-accomplished journalists and knowledgeable election experts. I am glad to have had the chance to know them better, understand what brought them into the field, and hopefully to continue a mentoring relationship in the time to come.