Democrats Re-Elect Pelosi; Boehner Gets GOP Nod : It's All Politics Pelosi successfully fended off criticism that she wasn't the new face Democrats needed. She had strong support from her increasingly liberal caucus since many moderate members in her caucus lost on Election Day. Still, 43 members voted against her.
NPR logo Nancy Pelosi Elected House Democrats' Leader; Boehner Is GOP's

Nancy Pelosi Elected House Democrats' Leader; Boehner Is GOP's

Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

She may be one of the most polarizing figures in American politics, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi was elected to be the Democrats' minority leader when the new Congress begins in January.

Pelosi won in a 150-43 vote with Rep. Heath Shuler, a North Carolina moderate, on the losing side. There was little doubt she would be elected once she announced because she wouldn't have announced if she didn't have the votes.

Meanwhile, in an uncontested election, Rep. John Boehner was elected leader of the House Republicans for the 112th Congress which starts in January. That means he will become the next Speaker of the House.

Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia was elected to be Majority Leader, Boehner's top lieutenant.

The strong vote for Pelosi, a liberal who represents San Francisco, in part reflected how the House Democratic caucus has shifted leftward since Election Day.

Many of the middle-of-the-road Democrats who helped give Democrats the House majority in 2006 and expanded their numbers in 2008 were swept out of office because of the Republican wave.

But the 43 votes against her reflected the great unhappiness among some Democrats that the leader who presided over one of the most significant defeats for a majority party in modern history remains the congressional face of the party.

Pelosi has argued that the defeat wasn't her fault, blaming the losses on the sluggish economy and 9.6 percent unemployment.

But some House Democrats said whatever the case of the "shellacking", as President Obama called the defeat, the party would be better off with new leadership.

The entire House Democratic leadership team remains in place. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland will be Pelosi's second in command as the minority whip.

Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, currently the majority whip, was elected to the newly created position of minority assistant leader.