The number of independents has continued to grow, as both parties have lost ground among the public. Based on surveys conducted this year, 38% describe themselves as independents, up from 32% in 2008 and 30% in 2004. Independents today are more numerous that at any point in the last 70 years.

At the same time, the percentage of self-described Democrats has fallen from 36% four years ago to 32% today. Republican identification has remained relatively steady over this period (24% today compared with 25% in 2008). In 1991, however, there were nearly equal percentages of Republicans (31%), Democrats (31%) and independents (33%).

Democrats continue to hold an advantage in leaned part identification. In 2012 surveys, 48% either affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic while 40% either identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. That is little changed from recent years, but in 2008, Democrats held a 15-point lead in leaned party affiliation (51% to 36%). Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.