Lynda Johnson Robb was tempering her anger with organization, guiding her husband toward the door of the Pisces club. Chuck Robb, Virginia's lieutenant governor, was very willing to suggest that the Democrats had only themselves to blame for the conservative bloodbath.

Over by the groaning table of deepfried mozzarella, shrimp, beef and mushrooms, spinach cannelloni and kiwi tart, Arthur Burns, the perennial Republican money czar, looked positively smug. "The results are precisely what I wanted," said Burns.

Mary King and Perter Bourne, both of whom served the Carter administration, were spitting mad. And diplomat Alejandro Orfila was being lavishly neutral.

The quietly elegant party at Pisces, given by Democratic fund-raiser Richard Wiseman, had the Democrats and Republicans of money and experience in the same room, but with scarce interaction.

The living room setting was heavy with thoughtful silences. Wiseman energetically table-hopped but mainly hugged the wall, watching the political slide on the four big-screen televisions. "I think we need some continuity," he said wistfully.

Bourne, the Carter drug policy adviser who was forced to resign for writing an improper prescription, thought racism was the main element in the Reagan victory. "This is covert racism. Once Carter pinned him as a racist, people perceived that quality and wanted it." His wife, Mary King, who had campaigned heartily in the South, added, "People want to bring back the past. They think life was much more simpler. That's not a realistic basis for the 1980s."

By 9 p.m. the Democrats had a new philosophy. "I'm looking for small victories. How's Bob Eckhardt doing?" asked Barry Jagoda, a media man in Carter's 1976 victory.

Livingston Biddle, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, took the cue, checking out the returns of his friends, John Brademas and Birch Bayh. The new philosophy soon soured.