A straw poll is a non-binding poll of the votes or preferences of members of a political convention. Often a "straw poll" is used to indicate who the leading candidates are in an upcoming election. The name "straw poll" came from the 17th-century writer John Selden, who said: "Take a straw and throw it up into the air—you may see by that which way the wind is."
A straw poll emphasizes the quantity of votes over quality. They are generally highly unreliable. For example, an online poll might ask viewers to click a button that corresponds to their opinion. Such a poll would be unreliable because nothing is known about the people who vote and they can vote over and over again.
- US Government and Politics