ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 17 -- The results of last week's primary have left Gov. William Donald Schaefer in a decidedly gloomy mood, aides say; he won only about 78 percent of the Democratic vote.

"He's feeling unappreciated right now," one top assistant said, noting that Schaefer's primary opponent, Anne Arundel County real estate agent Frederick M. Griisser Jr., got nearly 100,000 votes.

Some supporters of the former Baltimore mayor also thought they saw troubling signs. Though his popularity had skyrocketed in the Washington suburbs, it was down in the Baltimore area from his record showing in 1986. On the Eastern Shore, he got about 60 percent of the vote against Griisser, who waged a quiet, vastly underfunded campaign, and almost lost two counties. And some prominent legislators who were backed by Schaefer were defeated.

The primary results touched off a debate within the Schaefer organization over the unorthodox strategy of bankrolling a volunteer action program that barely mentioned the candidate or the election. In the general election campaign, lieutenants say, the strategy will shift to more traditional political methods. For example, the campaign today announced formation of a Republicans for Schaefer committee, headed by tennis star Pam Shriver.

Later this week Schaefer plans to release his first detailed statement on abortion after nearly four years in office. His decision to take a stand on abortion comes after four antiabortion senators were defeated at the polls last Tuesday.

Schaefer begins the general election campaign as a popular incumbent with nearly $750,000 in the bank. He faces Republican William S. Shepard, of Potomac, a former Foreign Service officer who barely squeaked past a 10-time loser and ended the primary flat broke, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Though supporters such as campaign treasurer Robert E. Michel Jr. predict that Schaefer will "win big" in the Nov. 6 general election, others are concerned that he won't have big coattails or receive the mandate he wants for his final term as governor. "If he gets less than 60 percent, that would mean something," said another aide.

Jim Smith, Schaefer's campaign manager, said the organization "learned lessons" from the primary results, but took satisfaction from Schaefer's showing in the Washington suburbs and the fact that many of the candidates he supported prevailed at the polls last week.

The Schaefer vote may have suffered on the conservative Eastern Shore, Smith said, from his strong support two years ago of handgun controls and his position favoring restrictions on wetland development. "You can't please 100 percent of the people," Smith said.

Others said that the vote for Griisser, one of the leaders in the National Rifle Association fight against the gun control law, was largely a protest over issues with which voters disagreed with Schaefer.

During the primary, the Schaefer organization spent $1.2 million, an undetermined part of that on an effort called Campaign for Maryland. Under that rubric, the campaign printed elaborate booklets and staged events around the state -- few of which Schaefer attended -- to promote volunteer activism to improve the environment, make inroads against illiteracy and combat illegal drugs.

Critics complain that the Campaign for Maryland distracted from the principal thrust of a political campaign: getting the candidate's name before potential voters.

Michel, a longtime Schaefer fund-raiser and friend, said the Campaign for Maryland was born of a "sense of responsibility."

"If its results can be criticized now, you can't criticize our motives," Michel said.

Schaefer, he contended, was bound to be criticized for either taking Griisser too seriously or too lightly.

Schaefer organizers said they will concentrate more effort now on traditional campaign tactics.

"In the general {election} we always anticipated and will do more things like rallies, phone banks, signs and television -- the normal campaign activities," Smith said.