WASHINGTON – Nancy Pelosi was re-elected the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives on Wednesday — and by so doing, her party members sent a loud message to President Obama: They expect her to stand up for liberal principles against a White House they fear is wobbly on them.

Pelosi, the speaker of the House for the past four years, easily survived a challenge from moderate Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina. The vote for the California lawmaker was 150-43.

Democrats no longer will control the House in the 112th Congress, which begins in January, but they re-elected the same team they have in the current Congress, though with different titles: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland will be the minority whip, and whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina will assume a new position as assistant leader. John Larson of Connecticut will remain the caucus chairman.

As expected, Republicans on Wednesday chose John Boehner of Ohio as the speaker and Eric Cantor of Virginia as the majority leader; they’ve been the No. 1 and No. 2 GOP House leaders in the current Congress as well.

Pelosi’s election came amid unusual turmoil within Democratic ranks. After Republicans made her an object of scorn during the fall campaigns, moderate Democrats are unhappy that she represents a continuation of policies that helped the party lose at least 61 House seats Nov. 2 — with six more races still undecided — and six Senate seats.

On the other hand, Democratic liberals — who dominate the House caucus — are upset that the Obama White House compromised on the health care overhaul, the economic stimulus and global warming initiatives, and they also have a new concern. They want to extend Bush-era tax cuts only for individuals who earn less than $200,000 a year and families that make less than $250,000, a position that Obama firmly supported until recently, when the White House began sending mixed signals.

Lately the president and his aides have signaled that he’s willing to negotiate with Republicans on the question; it’s widely expected that Congress will approve some kind of temporary extension of the tax cuts next month for every income level.

Pelosi, her backers said, has shown repeatedly that she’s willing to fight for liberal views.

“We’re making sure the White House hears the message,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

“Republicans did not win this election. Democrats lost because their base stayed home,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Voting against Pelosi was Mike Michaud of Maine.

“The American people sent a clear message that they want Congress to work together to create jobs and improve our economy. I believe that it’s time for a fresh approach,” he said.