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Acela Corridor

The “Acela corridor” refers to the Northeast megalopolis that stretches roughly from Washington, D.C., through New York City, to Boston.

Named after Amtrak’s high-speed Acela Express train that traverses this region, the corridor is often cited as a hub of political, financial, and media power.

In politics, the region is frequently characterized as an echo chamber of liberal elite opinion that’s out of touch with the broader American populace.

More on “Acela Corridor”

The densely populated stretch of the Northeast traversed by pundits, campaign consultants, and other political cognoscenti.

Named for the express, pricier Amtrak trains that can shuttle between Washington, D.C., and New York City in under three hours.

Vice President Joe Biden is Amtrak’s best-known patron; much was made of his daily train commute between D.C. and Delaware when he represented that state in the Senate. (He even half-jokingly once complained to one of us, “When I die, they’ll put it on my tombstone: ‘He took the train.’ ”

“Acela Corridor” can sometimes be used as a pejorative. This is usually a knock against liberals.

Conservative-leaning New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote in June 2013 that gun control, immigration reform, and climate change are “pillars of Acela Corridor ideology, core elements of [then New York Mayor Michael] Bloombergism, places where Obama-era liberalism overlaps with the views of Davos-goers [a reference to the World Economic Forum, a gathering of political/ business elites] and the Wall Street 1 percent.”

Conservative RedStateblog founder Erick Erickson is harsher in his assessment of the “Acela Corridor” crowd, suggesting they’re mostly acolytes of President Barack Obama.

“The New York–Washington bubble remains largely disconnected from the rest of the country. . . . There is a disconnect that I think explains both Congress and the President’s falling approval ratings,” he wrote in June 2013.

From Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes © 2014 Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark.

Use of “Acela Corridor” in a sentence

  • Candidates focused on retail politics often find themselves out of their element in the Acela corridor, where muckety mucks dominate the campaign landscape.
  • Critics argue that the policy debates taking place in the Acela corridor are increasingly disconnected from the concerns of voters in the Rust Belt and rural America.
  • Despite its relatively small geographical size, the Acela corridor wields significant influence in shaping national political narratives, given its concentration of media outlets and think tanks.