A meeting of southern Democratic governors scheduled for Saturday to discuss President Carter's 1980 campaign strategy was canceled today because only three governors were planning to be present.

Spokesmen for North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, who was to be the host for the meeting, blamed the cancellation on problems caused by the independent truckers' strike and gasoline shortages.

Hunt, one of Carter's most vigorous defenders among state governors, had scheduled the session at Research Triangle Park near Raleigh Saturday afternoon. Presidential assistants Hamilton Jordan, Jack Watson and Tim Kraft were to have talked about Carter's plans with the governors, Hunt's office said.

"They're just going to talk to the governors about strategy, about team-building," Hunt's deputy press secretary Stephanie Bas said before plans were called off.

She said the White House had asked for the meeting and was inviting the governors.

But by Friday, only South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley and Georgia Gov. George Busbee had let Gov. Hunt know they would attend.

"There were iffy commitments from three or four others," said Hunt aide Paul Essex.

There were no plans to reschedule a similar meeting, he said. Most of the governors will be at the national Democratic governors conference in Louisville next week, and Essex said the White House might arrange a meeting with the southern group then.