As the nation's voters went to the polls last Thursday, President Carter's popularity rating stood at 51 percent approval, just five points below his immediate post-summit rating.

Carter's post-summit rating of 56 percent represented a record 17-point jump in popularity and the president's highest score since last December.

The president has registered popularity gains in the latest survey among all major groups since his August low point of 39 percent approval, but his grains have been most pronounced among men, younger adults, persons living outside the South, and those with a college background.

Carter's popularity profile is remarkable in that a higher proportion of the college segment - which includes a disproportionately high number of Republicans - say they approve of his performance in office. Approval ratings for his Democratic predecessors have been consistently lower amount those with college training than among those with less formal education.

Here is the question asked and the findings:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Carter is handling his job as president? (TABLE) Approve(COLUMN)51% Disapprove(COLUMN)35 No opinion(COLUMN)14(END TABLE)

The following table compares the latest results by groups with those from the August, pre-summit survey:(TABLE) (COLUMN)Aug. 4-7(COLUMN)Latest(COLUMN)Change National(COLUMN)39%(COLUMN)51%(COLUMN)+12 College background(COLUMN)36(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)+18 High school(COLUMN)40(COLUMN)49(COLUMN)+9 Grade School(COLUMN)43(COLUMN)47(COLUMN)+ 4 South(COLUMN)44(COLUMN)52(COLUMN)+ 8 Non-South(COLUMN)37(COLUMN)50(COLUMN)+13 Men(COLUMN)38(COLUMN)53(COLUMN)+15 Women(COLUMN)40(COLUMN)49(COLUMN)+9 Whites(COLUMN)38(COLUMN)50(COLUMN)+12 Non-Whites(COLUMN)48(COLUMN)58(COLUMN)+10 16-29 years old(COLUMN)43(COLUMN)59(COLUMN)+16 30-49 years old(COLUMN)44(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)+10 50 and older(COLUMN)32(COLUMN)42(COLUMN)+10(END TABLE)

The results reported today are based on continuous daily telephone interviewing between Oct. 6 and Oct. 30 with 1.523 adults 18 and older. The current findings include an allowance for non-telephone households and an allowance for response differences between telephone and personal interviews.