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Are Young Voters Abandoning The Democrats? Not So Fast

Harvard's Institute of Politics on Wednesday released a new study of young voters that has produced some provocative headlines -- "Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare" and "Poll Shows Democrats Slipping Among Young Voters."

But a reality check: Most polls continue to show Democrats with a sizable advantage among young voters. For instance, our NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll has interviewed a total of 4,368 likely voters this fall. And in this big sample, those who are 18 to 29 years old prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress by 10 points, 51 percent to 41 percent -- which is pretty much how they broke in the 2010 election (55 percent to 42 percent).

What's more, the Harvard poll shows that opinions among all 18-29 year olds have been relatively stable from 2010 to now.

From Harvard’s Fall 2010 survey:

Obama overall approval: 49%-48%

Overall Congressional Dem approval: 39%-57%

Overall Congressional GOP approval: 28%-68%

Congressional preference: Dem 53%-42%

From Harvard’s Fall 2014 survey:

Obama overall approval: 43%-53%

Overall Congressional Dem approval: 35%-60%

Overall Congressional GOP approval: 23%-72%

Overall Congressional preference: 50%-43%

What is true in the poll is that President Obama's approval rating among those 18-29 has decreased -- from 49 percent in 2010 to 43 percent now.

What's also true is that Republicans this year lead among the 26 percent of respondents who identified themselves as "definite" voters -- 51 percent prefer a GOP-controlled Congress, while 47 percent want a Dem-controlled one. (So this doesn't include those say they "probably will be voting" or are "50/50.")

And that likely could be the story this midterm season: Those most enthusiastic about voting in the 2014 midterms tend to be Republicans -- and maybe even among young voters, according to the Harvard poll.

But that’s not necessarily the case among all young voters.