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Mrs. Pelosi was forced to surrender her role as House speaker to Mr. Boehner after her party suffered crushing defeats in the 2010 congressional elections. At the time, many expected the California Democrat to step down from leadership. She didn’t, choosing instead to run — successfully — for House minority leader.

And as Democrats remain in the minority when the 113th Congress convenes for the first time in early January, speculation again will ramp up as to whether Mrs. Pelosi will remain as the House’s top Democrat.

But the savvy, tight-lipped veteran lawmaker has given no hints she is considering stepping down.

“That’s really hard to say” what she will do after the elections, said Barbara Sinclair, a University of California at Los Angeles political science professor who closely follows the House. “I don’t even know if her best buddy knows, because maybe even she doesn’t know.”

But if her caucus should continue to languish in the minority another two years, there appears little or no enthusiasm — at least for now — among her lieutenants to challenge her, should she desire to remain in charge.

If Mrs. Pelosi does step down, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is next in line to be the top Democrat in the House. The Maryland Democrat easily won re-election, defeating his GOP challenger by more than 20 percentage points.

With Mr. Obama’s re-election Tuesday, another possible scenario is for Mrs. Pelosi to remain minority leader for a few months before stepping down, a move that would give her time to work with the president on major tax and spending legislation needed to avoid a looming “fiscal cliff.”

• Dave Boyer contributed to this article.