Goldie, 57, is a working widow in a big-city suburb in a western state.

She considers herself a strong Democrat and a liberal; she says she has voted in every presidential election since 1944, that she is absolutely certain to vote this time and that she feels very strongly about her choice.

Her choice is independent candidate John B. Anderson.

Goldie is among a distinct minority, one of some 13 percent of those interviewed in a new Washington Post poll who say they are for Anderson. In many ways she is a typical an Anderson voter as may be found. Goldie voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976, but now feels that his presidency has failed. v

"He is a brilliant man," she says, "but he does not have what it takes to do the job."

As for Ronald Reagan, Goldie writes him off as unqualified to be a good president, and she dislikes his positions as she perceives them.

"He is backed by big business, he is not out for the working people," is the way she puts it.

It is no secret that people such as Goldie -- voters who have given up on Carter and who fail to see Reagan as an acceptable alternative -- form the heart of the potential Anderson vote.

From the time he entered the campaign as an independent, Anderson and his backers have realized that only massive discontent with the two major party candidates could give the Illinois congressman a shot at the presidency.

The Post poll shows that there is indeed massive discontent -- but not yet of a kind that seems likely to create a breakthrough for Anderson.

A great many people are down on Carter, and a great many are down on Reagan. But there are not a great many who, like Goldie, are down on both at the same time -- and that is what Anderson seems to need to become anything other than a spoiler in this campaign.

One question asked in The Post poll was whether Carter "is a better president than he is getting credit for," or whether he "just can't cut it as president." More than four in 10 said Carter "can't cut it," a strikingly high level of disapproval.

Another question asked of those interviewed was whether they felt that Reagan was well qualified to be a good president. Again, the negative soundings were vast.More than four in 10 said they felt he was not qualified.

Among those who held negative views on both Carter and Reagan, Anderson's fortunes soared. He was the clear winner, drawing 43 percent support. The problem for Anderson, The Post's poll suggests, is that only 12 percent of those registered to vote view both the Democratic and Republican candidates with severe disfavor.

The great majority of the public is likely to be highly critical of only one of the two major candidates, and not both. Among such voters, support for Anderson is hard to find. Not more than one in 10 of them interviewed in The Post's poll said that they are supporting the Illinois congressman.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Sept. 3 to 7, with 2,314 people interviewed nationwide, including 1,755 who said they were registered to vote. The figures in this article are drawn from those who said they are registered.

The poll found Carter and Reagan tied at 37 percent apiece, far ahead of Anderson. It also found considerable confirmation for the argument that Anderson stands to hurt Carter far more than Reagan.

Much of Anderson's support is concentrated in the Northeast, an area Carter must win if he is to be successful. The poll shows Anderson with 18 percent support in that region, Carter at 31 percent and Reagan at 35. Nowhere is Anderson's role as a potential spoiler clearer.

In all, some 45 percent of Anderson's support comes from people who describe themselves as Democrats, and 11 percent more from people who say they are independents who lean Democratic.

Although Anderson has been a Republican until now, only 17 percent of his current support comes from voters who say they are Republicans, and another 7 percent comes from independents who say they lean toward the Republican side.

In addition, one-third of Anderson's supporters in the poll describe themselves as liberals. In fact, according to the poll, almost one of every five Anderson backers describes himself as a liberal Democrat -- the kind of voter Carter must have to win reelection.

Should Anderson remain a fringe candidate, it would seem logical that the great bulk of his support would go to Carter, simply because it is so lopsidedly Democratic.

Strikingly, however, that is not what the voters are saying right now. In the Post's poll, more than half the Democrats who supported Anderson said they are not prepared to vote for Carter even if Anderson drops out of the race. How they would vote on Election Day, of course, is another question.