an unofficial vote taken to obtain an indication of the general trend of opinion on a particular issue.
Origin of straw vote
An Americanism dating back to 1885–90
Also called straw poll.
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for straw poll
mainly US, Canadian and NZ straw vote
an unofficial poll or vote taken to determine the opinion of a group or the public on some issue
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Originally, a small, informal opinion survey. Today, a straw poll is generally a large-scale, scientifically determined public opinion survey based on a random sample of the population. Straw polls are commonly used to test public opinion of candidates running for office.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Idioms and Phrases with straw poll
Also, straw poll. An unofficial vote or poll indicating how people feel about a candidate or issue. For example, Let's take a straw poll on the bill and see how it fares. This idiom alludes to a straw used to show in what direction the wind blows, in this case the wind of public opinion. O. Henry joked about it in A Ruler of Men (1907): “A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.” [c. 1885]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.