A year after his selection as George Bush's running mate, Vice President Quayle has failed to persuade most Americans that he is qualified to take over the presidency and seems to be making little progress in improving his standing, a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll indicates. In the Aug. 4-8 survey of 1,022 respondents, 52 percent said Quayle was not qualified to take over the Oval Office if something should happen to the president, while 38 percent said he was qualified. As a candidate, Bush always listed ability to take over the White House as his number one requirement for a running mate. In an interview last summer, Bush was asked the most important characteristics he was seeking. He replied, "I'd have to go with the generic: Who {would be} best to take over in case of something happening to the president?" The new survey, one of the first done on a vice president, offers little good news to Quayle today, but does provide an opening: large numbers of those questioned do not yet have an opinion about him. Quayle's approval rating dropped over the past two months, but so did the number of those who disapprove of him, while the undecided segment grew. Quayle, in an interview, said he now feels "confident in the job . . . . I think we are off to a good steady start." The vice president attributed the gap between his popularity and Bush's to his rough campaign and to the fact that he is new on the national scene. "I don't think people have the knowledge and information about me they do about the president," he said. Among the poll findings:Forty-three percent of those questioned approved of the way Quayle is handling his job, compared to 22 percent who disapproved, while 34 percent had no opinion. That puts the vice president's approval rate nine points below the March level and 25 points lower than Bush's rating today. Those questioned are nearly divided on whether Bush made a mistake in choosing Quayle. Forty-three percent said he did, while 47 percent said he did not. Asked if Bush should pick someone else as a running mate if he seeks a second term, 43 percent said he should, while 38 percent said he should not. Nineteen percent had no opinion. White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu said the administration is unconcerned about Quayle's poll ratings. "The president likes the job he is doing. He is the president's best asset in dealing with Congress." The poll indicated that seeing Quayle as vice president troubles Americans less than contemplating him in the Oval Office. Asked, for example, if Quayle is qualified for his current job, 52 percent said he is and 33 percent said he is not, close to a reversal of his rating as presidential material. Asked to rate the job Quayle is doing as vice president, 52 percent gave him a positive rating; 33 percent, negative. More than 63 percent of those questioned said having Quayle in the vice presidential slot did not worry them. Opinions about Quayle differed little among age groups, income or education levels, but respondents' parties and race did make a significant difference. Two-thirds of those who identify themselves as Republicans approve of the way Quayle is doing his job; 15 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, a third approve, slightly less than a third disapprove and slightly more than a third have no opinion. Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater cited the high approval among Republicans as a key factor in the vice president's favor. "The single most important role for a vice president is his party support role," Atwater said, adding it was one of the major factors in Bush's own success. As vice president, Bush had another major plus that Quayle lacks: his approval rating correlated directly with then-President Ronald Reagan's, a pattern with most vice presidents. Bush was usually within 8 to 10 points of Reagan; Quayle has been 20 to 27 points behind Bush. Breaking down the numbers by race, the poll found 46 percent of whites approved of Quayle's performance, while only 27 percent of blacks did. Bush has the same racial gap in his numbers, indicating party affiliation, not personality, is a key factor. Several early and late April polls containing questions on Quayle indicated he is not making much headway in overall approval. In many ways, the jury on Quayle was out then and remains out. In a mid-April Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll that asked whether Quayle would make a good president if he had to replace Bush, 51 percent said no. A third of those questioned were unsure what they thought of Quayle a year into office. A CBS-New York Times poll at about that time found the same thing. An April Washington Post-ABC News poll that included a question on how Quayle was doing his job found that 52 percent approved, 30 percent disapproved and 18 percent had no opinion. Assessing Quayle's standing compared to other vice presidents at this point in their tenure is complex: virtually no organization conducted earlier full-scale vice presidential polls. Available data, however, indicate that Quayle has a lower rating than Bush did at this point in office. A Time Magazine poll in May 1981 gave then-Vice President Bush a 51 percent favorable rating, with 9 percent unfavorable and 39 percent undecided. In an ABC News poll in April 1981, Bush had a 64 percent favorable rating. Until Quayle, the most controversial vice presidential choice by a Republican was generally considered Richard Nixon's 1968 running mate Spiro Agnew, the little-known governor of Maryland. A year later, Agnew had a high approval rating, according to a Gallup poll at the time. About 74 percent of those responding to the 1969 poll gave Agnew a generally favorable rating; 19 percent an unfavorable rating.Polling analyst Sharon Warden contributed to this report. ---------WASHINGTON POST-ABC NEWS POLL-------- Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Dan Quayle is handling his job as vice president? Approve:----------------43% Disapprove:-------------22% Don't know/no opinion:--34% Q. Considering everything, how would you rate the job that Dan Quayle is doing as vice president? Positive:-----52% Negative:-----33% Don't know/no opinion:-----15% Q. Is Dan Quayle qualified to be vice president, or not? Yes, is qualified:-----52% No, is not qualified:-----33% Don't know/no opinion:-----15% Q.If something were to happen to George Bush, do you think that Dan Quayle would be qualified to take over as president of the United States, or not? Yes, would be qualified:--------38% No, would not be qualified:-----52% Don't know/no opinion:----------11% Q. Suppose that George Bush runs for reelection in 1992. Do you think that Bush should keep Dan Quayle on the ticket, or do you think that Bush should pick someone else to be his vice president? Keep Dan Quayle:-----38% Pick someone else:-----43% Don't know/no opinion:-----19% Q. Generally speaking, do you think that the news media have been fair or unfair to Dan Quayle? Fair:-----------------47% Unfair:---------------40% Don't know/no opinion:-----13% Q.Regardless of your personal feeling about Dan Quayle, do you think it was (a mistake/not a mistake) for Bush to pick Quayle as his vice president? Mistake:------------------43% Not a mistake:------------47% Don't know/no opinion:-----10% NOTE: Figures are from a Washington Post-ABC News telephone poll of 1,022 randomly selected adults nationwide conducted Aug. 4-8, 1989. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Sampling error is, however, only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion poll. Interviewing for this poll was conducted by the ICR Survey Research Group of Media, Pa. Numbers may not total to 100 due to rounding.