If Ronald Reagan is reelected, will he be a different president than during his first few years? The question is already relevant. With poll ratings running high, Mr. Reagan does seem well positioned to capture a second term.
From conversations with the President's associates comes this projection of a reelected Reagan:
* The President's approach to governing: He would remain as he is - part ideologue, part pragmatist. ''But,'' as a White House aide says, ''in a crunch the President becomes very practical. He's very grudging about it. But he's willing to make the compromises necessary in order to get something done.''
Most apparent in Mr. Reagan's second four years would be his effort to improve on his record. He did this as California governor, exerting his influence in getting the legislature to provide more money for education and to enact welfare reform. Overall, Reagan gained some pretty good marks for his eight years in Sacramento after a rather lackluster first term.
Reagan believes he has already made a positive record for himself in his handling of the economy. But he is aware that the massive deficit threatens the recovery. He would be going all out to reduce that deficit.
He would seek to use a return to the presidency as a mandate to get Congress to enact further reductions in federal spending, particularly on social programs. But he would also accept some new taxes - ''Taxes on consumption - not savings,'' Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige said - to move the budget to black ink.
In marking up his achievements in Sacramento, Reagan was helped immeasurably by a cooperative Democratic speaker. In a second term, look to a close working relationship with Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. - if Reagan can bring this about.
* Reagan and the conservatives: The President would throw some bones in their direction. He'd push Congress to provide tax credits for parents with children in private and parochial schools. He'd show support for a silent prayer in the schools and anti-abortion legislation.
But a Reagan aide emphasizes that the President would not make conservative social programs priority items. Thus the conservatives are likely to become even more disenchanted with Reagan than they have become during his first term.
* Reagan and foreign affairs: He would no longer be the novice he was in 1980 . He would lean on that experience to try to turn a mixed assessment of his initiatives abroad into good, and perhaps rave, reviews.
Reagan's prime objective after 1984 would be to leave the White House as a President who is viewed as having moved the nation and the world toward peace.
Mr. Reagan is likely to further irritate friends among conservative ''hawks'' by agreeing to nuclear-arms-control accommodations with the Soviets that run counter to public attacks on Soviet leaders.
* Administration staffing: The Reagan team would likely remain much as it has been. Reagan isn't one to shake up his personnel. He rewards loyalty by keeping those on their jobs as long as they want to stay. There will be no request from Reagan that all members of his Administration submit resignations at the beginning of the second term - resignations he can use or not use as he pleases. So no one should be surprised if the Cabinet remains much as it is today, now that presidential counselor Edwin Meese is poised to replace William French Smith as Attorney General.