"Anticipation" was the watchword yesterday as candidates, campaign workers and voters gathered at polling places across the city.

"Anticipation" was also one of the tunes played during WOOK-FM's day-long special of election-related material-songs with double meanings, like "Marathon Man" ("You got me running to catch up to you/All this running is wearing out my shoe"), songs dedicated to candidates or requested by politickers and voters.

In the influential upper Northeast section of the city, an elderly woman wearing a blue pinafore, head wrap and high-top shoes, and carrying a cane, rocked steadily toward the polls at Backus Junior High School, while "Anticipation" blared from a nearby radio.

When a poll worker armed with a Sterling Tucker hat, buttons and leaflets moved to greet her, she waved him off and pointed toward him with the cane "You don't have to say nothing to me," she said, smiling crisply. "I've made up my mind. 'Walter Washington.'"

The area, around Hamilton Street and South Dakota Avenue NE, has one of the highest voter turnouts in the city, and is considered a bastion of the black middle-class.

"It's a strategic area," said Wayne Davis, a community organier, carrying a campaign poster for a Ward 5 Council member, as he bounced around excitedly. "So far this morning, people seem to have had Washington on their minds. The older people seem confortable with him. They're rather scared to try something new and untested."

"When all is said and done, Tucker is the one!" proclaimed Isaac Whitman, as he hunted for votes early yesterday in his "Tucker - Mayor - Today" T-shirt outside Garnet-Patterson Junior High School at 10th and U streets NW.

"When all the rhetoric is past, Tucker will last," said Whitman, rounding out his ditty.

"That's right - it's all rhetoric," rejoined a grinning Conrad Smith, president of the Washington school board and a Marion Barry supporter.

Such gently barbed exchanges were commonplace outside District of Columbia polling places yesterday, particularly in the early hours when campaign workers often saw more of each other then they did of the electorate.

Paul Pratt, a Red Cross official and local Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, had borrowed a Red Cross bus to transport a group of elderly voters to Garnet-Patterson from the Roosevelt Hotel for Senior Citizens, at 16th and V streets NW.

A Tucker supporter, Pratt said he was not trying to force his views on the voters he had bused to the polls, although "if they ask me who I like, naturally I'll tell them."

Last year, pratt added, "I joked that if they didn't vote for me for (ANC) commissioner, I wouldn't take them home."

Mayor Washington's representative at the Chevy Chase Community Center yesterday morning was an enthusiastic campaigner named Glorida Corn. "Like corn on the cob," she said helpfully.

"It's spelled K-O-R-N," interjected Joseph Brent, a bearded Sterling Tucker supporter working the same patch of McKinley Street NW just off Connecticut Avenue.

"Get out of here!" exclaimed Corn, taking a friendly swipe at Brent's chin. "He's just mad because my tenants' association wouldn't hire his wife as our attorney," she added.

A moment later, Corn had accosted a voter and was extolling the mayor's accomplishments. "And vote for me in two years," she said, when she had finished her pitch. "At large, against Jerry Moore."

You're going to run against Jerry Moore?" asked D.C. Council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), who was soliciting support a few yards down the street.

"Uh huh," replied Corn. "Won't you support me?"

"I don't know what I'm going to do," said Mason diplomatically.

At this, Corn launched into an impassioned attack on Moore's record. "And where do you stand?" she asked Mason.

Mason considered the question for a moment. "I stand right here," she finally replied.

Mason was unopposed on yesterday's D.C. Statehood Party primary ballot, so she was trying to round up support for the November general election. But it was not always easy going.

"Hi. I'm Hilda Mason," she said, extending a hand to an elderly woman who had just emerged from the polling place.

"I already voted," said the object of Mason's appeal, brushing past.

"I know," said Mason. "But . . ."

But it was too late. The voter had passed out of earshot.

From the polls at Bundy Junior High in the Shaw area, residents who live in the acres of low-income apartments at New Jersey Avenue and N Street can see a shining gold star rise above the top of a church called the United House of Prayer for All People.

A few days ago, Bishop Walter (Sweet Daddy) McCullough, the church's spiritual and political leader, endorsed Washington, pledging to send thousdands of his followers to the polls to vote for him.

Sam Feilds, precinct captain for Precinct 18, said early yesterday that one of the church elders had led a flock of about a half-dozen of McCullough's congregation to the polls.

"There has been a steady stream of the bishop's people here all morning," Fields said.

The sidewalk in front of Christ Episcopal Church, at 31st and O streets NW, resembled an outdoor cafe yesterday as voters and poll workers exchanged greetings and sipped lemonade in the shade.

"This is a pleasant place to watch a poll," said Barry supporter Terry Herrick, as he chatted with Tucker supporter Sally Longhi.

Walter Washington's man was Jeff Naftal, a member of the George Washington University College Democrats, who said he had volunteered to hand out Washington literature although, personally, he favored Barry.

And if a voter asked him for his advice?

"I tell them to vote for Washington," said Naftal.

And if the voter asked him why?

"Because he's the best man for the job," said Naftal.