It is altogether fitting in this upside down political year that President Carter passed the magic delegate number on the night Ted Kennedy stunned him in a series of primaries.

The message came through again yesterday, this time in states stretching all across America, that the people don't like Jimmy Carter very much. They may like Ted Kennedy even less, but he isn't an incumbent president, he isn't the apparent winner of this tiring contest.

Carter won where he tried hardest, in Ohio. He outspent Kennedy there by a huge margin and it paid off. He didn't want to lose the key primary that iced his 1976 nomination.

But elsewhere, the luster of the Oval Office did him little good.

In Rhode Island, admittedly not a barometer of America, he got swamped. In New Jersey he got whipped. In California he was in trouble. Voters there said they liked him third best in a contest with Ronald Reagan and independent John B. Anderson.

Carter, in his aloof campaign posture, would not even mention Kennedy's name as he attempted to bridge the chasm that exists within the Democratic party.

Kennedy, in the style that has marked his losing effort, would say last night only that he is not saying "uncle." What web he hopes to spin in the next few months to steal this nomination away from Carter is not at all clear. But the Democratic fight is not completely over.