The differences, both in time horizon and in forcing respondents to pick a single priority, are pretty stark. And if you want to know what voters’ “biggest worry” (Klein’s words) or “most pressing issue” (Lowery’s) is—in the everyday sense of “what problem people want their elected representatives to spend their time fixing right now”—the Gallup poll really doesn’t undermine the earlier findings, that jobs and the economy are the priority, at all. (To be fair, Thompson preserves the language about “future well-being” in his post, though he doesn’t emphasize its potential significance.)

Poll data are grist for the link economy, easily available hard information ripe to be dissected, analyzed, shared, and explored. That’s all well and good. But, please, let’s see a little more time, and a little more attention, spent on what the latest numbers do—and don’t—mean.

Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.