The share of people who say they are “independent” — that is, they don’t affiliate with a political party — has climbed to its highest point in 70 years, according to a new survey by the Pew Center for People And The Press.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents self-identified as independents, compared with 33 percent who considered themselves Democrats and 22 percent who identified as Republicans.

Fleeing The Ruins by Flickr User Ed Bierman

"Fleeing The Ruins" by Flickr User Ed Bierman

Of those independents, a third (33 percent) say they are conservative, which is also an increase.

I was recently among a group of people who covered the political spectrum. Out of fifteen or so, perhaps five said they were independents — and of these, three or so said they were really Republicans but did not want to say so.

Is that what’s happening? Or are people really abandoning the parties?