Ronald Reagan won big, dramatic victories in the East last night, destroying the Carter campaign's strategy of holding traditional Democrats in the Carter column to counter Reagan's big electoral advantage in the West.

According to projections by the three networks and the two major wire services, Reagan will win New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Conneticut, Delaware, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Carter won Rhode Island and, apparently, Massachusetts.

Independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson apparently did better in the East than in any other region of the country -- perhaps well enough to get above the magic 5 percent of the total popular vote that he needs to get retroactive federal financing and pay of his multimillion-dollar campaign debt.

Republicans also had a good day in Senate races in the East.

Republican Arlen Specter carried Philadephia and seemed headed for a victory in the Senate race in Pennsylvania against Democrat Pete Flaherty, the former mayor of Pittsburgh. Specter would take over the Republican seat being vacated by Richard S. Schweiker.

In the New York Senate race, Republican Alfonse D'Amato held stubbornly to a narrow lead over Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman for the seat held by Jacob Javits. However, Holtzman took steps that could lead to a formal call for a recount, leaving the final outcome in doubt.

In Connecticut, Rep. Christopher J. Dodd captured retiring Sen. Abraham Ribicoff's seat, easily defeating former New York Republican senator James L. Buckley, a conservative who tried to convince voters that he was a deserving native son of Conneticut and not a carpetbagger.

In northern New England, where two liberal Democratic senators were up for reelection, one -- John A. Durkin of New Hampshire -- apparently lost, while the other -- Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont -- clung to a small but apparently sufficient lead to win.

New Hampshire's Democratic governor, Hugh Gallen, had little trouble heading off a challenge from the man he beat to get the job, conservative Republican Meldrim Thomsom Jr. Thomson had the unflagging support of the Manchester Union-Leader and its publisher, William Loeb, but this was barely enough to help Thomson carry the greater Manchester area, and Gallen was much stronger elsewhere in the state.

In West Virginia, Gov. John D. (Jay) Rokefeller IV's $10 million reelection campaign was successful, according to network projections. Rockefeller beat Arch Moore, the Republican former governor who in 1972 beat the free-spending heir to one of America's greatest fortunes, but who could not catch him this time. Carter carried West Virginia's six electoral votes.

Four of the House members implicated in the Abscam affair were up for reelection in the East, and only one of them -- Rep. Raymond Lederer (D-Pa.) -- won. Reps. John Murphy (D-N.Y.), Frank Thompson (D-N.J.) and Michael (Ozzie) Myers (D-Pa.) lost. Connecticut

Reagan won by 11 percentage points after a near-record voter turnout. With more than 90 percent of the ballots counted, Reagan led Carter 49 to 38 percent, with Anderson at 11 percent.

The Reagan win came in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 2.

Despite an off-and-on rain, voters waited as long as 20 minutes in lines throughout most of the state, with the longest waits in Fairfield County.

Democratic Rep. Christopher J. Dodd easily defeated former New York senator James L. Buckley for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Abraham Ribicoff. Delaware

Reagan apparently beat Carter, although the race was close up to the end.

With 96 percent of the vote counted, Reagan was ahead 47 to 45 percent, with Anderson a distant third. Voters turned out in numbers described as moderate to heavy in the state, where late polls gave Reagan a three-percentage-point lead over Carter. Maine

Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie was expected to help his boss win his home state, but Carter apparently lost. Anderson was getting nearly 10 percent of the vote. There were no statewide races in Maine, where voting was reported heavy despite some bad weather.

In the House races, the two Republican incumbents were far in front of their Democratic challengers.

Maine's four electoral votes are allocated according to a unique formula: two on the basis of the statewide results and one each to the winner in each of the two House districts. Maine is the only state that can split its electoral vote. Massachusetts

Carter clung to an early lead that had him four percentage points ahead of Reagan.

With 58 percent of the vote counted, Carter led 44 percent to 40, with Anderson getting 15 percent. Carter won handily in Boston, leading Reagan 54 to 33 percent. Desite his lead there, most observers were not giving the state to Carter because blue-collar towns such as Brockton, which normally vote Democratic, were going for Reagan.

Through a heavy rain that did not let up until after 5 p.m., voters turned out by the thousands; a turnout of 85 percent of the state's 3.1 million registered voters was predicted. Waits as long as an hour were routine, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy waited 30 minutes to vote in Hyannis, near the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod.

In congressional races, Republican Rep. Margaret M. Heckler survived a strong challenge from state Democratic Sen. Robert E. McCarthy; state Democratic Rep. Barney Frank appeared to have defeated dentist Richard A. Jones for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Robert F. Drinan, and freshman Rep. Nicholas Mavroules was leading Republican attorney Thomas H. Trimarco.

While most of the attention was on the presidential and congressional races, a controversial tax-reduction referendum dubbed Proposition 2 1/2 pulled many voters to the polls and was leading by 3 to 2. Designed along the lines of California's Proposition 13, the referendum was drawn up to reduce local property taxes in Massachusetts, which are among the highest in the nation. New Hampshire

Gov. Hugh Gallen won an impressive victory over former Republican governor Meldrim Thomson Jr., a conservative who enjoyed all-out support from the Manchester Union-Leader but apparently not from his former constituents.

In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat John A. Durkin apparently lost a tight race to former state attorney general Warren Rudman, the Republican challenger. With three-fourths of the precincts reporting, Rudman had pulled into a six-percentage-point lead, and The Washington Post's special correspondent in Manchester said it appeared impossible for Durkin to close the gap.

Reagan won a clear victory in the presidential race. New Jersey

Reagan swamped Carter gby a 3-to-2 ratio. Rain throughout the state held down the turnout, and the Democratic Party failed to put together an effective campaign following a bitter primary.

Carter was crushed by Kennedy in the primary, and he trailed Reagan from the start of their contest for New Jersey's 17 electoral votes. By personal appearances and visits to the state by administrtion supporters, Carter fought to capture the state, but he never was able to catch his GOP challenger.

In congressional races, Rep. Frank Thompson Jr., 62, was defeated by Republican Christopher Smith, 27, who hit hard at Thompson's indictment in the FBI's undercover Abscam operation. Smith won 38 percent of the vote against Thompson two years ago, and said in his victory statement last night that until Abscam, whoever opposed Thompson was though of as a "sacrificial lamb." Smith, who was a Democrat only a few years ago when he graduated from college, is a former executive director of the state right-to-life organization.

Another Democrat, Rep. Andrew Maguire, was defeated by a right-to-life proponent, Rep. Marge Roukema, in suburban Bergen County. It was Roukema's second attempt at a House seat. A third Democratic incumbent, Rep. James Howard, was running neck-and-neck with GOP challenger Marie Muhler. A defeat of Howard would give the Republicans a 8-to-7 majority in the state's House representation, which would be their first majority since 1964. New York

Reagan captured New York's 41 electoral votes in a victory that symbolized his sweep of the nation.

New York was vital to Carter's reelection hopes, but his lead grew slimmer as the weeks wore on, and in the last week of the campaign Reagan moved into the lead for the first time. The vote was closed, but the Associated Press and United Press International called Reagan the winner as he held a six-percentage-point lead over Carter with about half the returns counted. Anderson was winning about 7 percent of the vote. Reagan overcame the Democrats' 3-to-2 registration edge in the state.

The turnout was moderate to heavy as Carter had hoped, but Reagan apparently picked up strength from his debate with Carter in Cleveland, and his support kept building. Jewish voters' anger at Carter over his Middle East policy helped weaken the president in New York City, where he won about three-quarters of the vote in 1976.

In mid-campaign, Reagan announced that he changed his mind and now supported the federal bailout of New York City. When New York was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and seeking help, Reagan had said that he prayed morning and night that Washington would not aid the city.

In the three-way Senate contest, Republican conservative Alfonse D'Amato appeared on the edge of pulling off an extraordinary victory. D'Amato, who also had the nominations of the Conservative and Right-to-Life parties, began his quest as a little-known supervisor of Hempstead, Long Island.

ABC, CBS and United Press International called D'Amato the winner, but others said the race was too close to call. D'Amato led Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman by one percentage point with 95 percent of the vote tallied.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Jacob Javits, who stayed in the race on the Liberal Party line after losing the Republican primary, was, in the end, the spoiler for Holtzman. Javits resisted pressures to resign from his moderate and liberal supporters, who preferred Holtzman to D'Amato, even after it was apparent that Javits had no chance of winning. The ailing, 76-year-old senator won about 11 percent of the vote.

Abscam toppled Democratic Rep. John Murphy, chairman of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. He lost his Staten Island and southern Manhattan district to GOP Assemblyman Guy Molinari. In conceding, Murphy said his indictment in Abscam was the principal cause of his defeat.

On the basis of early returns, the Democrats appeared in danger of suffering losses on Long Island. Reps. Lester Wolff and Jerome Ambro were both trailing their GOP opponents.

Former lieutenant governor Mary Anne Krupsak lost to Republican David Martin in the race for the seat of retiring Republican Rep. Robert McWen. GOP candidate George Wortley captured the seat of retiring Democrat Rep. James Hanley. The Democrats went into the election with 26 of New York's 39 House seats and seemed certain to hold on to a majority, but a reduced one. Pennsylvania

Reagan sailed to victory in Pennsylvania, a state Carter and Vice President Mondale visited repeatedly in an attempt to hold on to its 27 electoral votes.

Until the final days of the campaign, Democrats had said the race was too close to call, but the traditionally Democratic labor and black vote did not rally to Carter in its usual numbers. The Pennsylvania vote was an unambiguous rejection of the president, whose attempt to wrap himself in the mantle of his party and invoke former Democratic presidents from Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson did not play with voters suffering from inflation and unemployment.

Not even campaign help from Kennedy, who helped edged Carter in last spring's Democratic primary, stemmed the shift to Reagan.

Republican Arlene Specter, a former Philadelphia district attorney, appeared to have defeated Democrat Pete Flaherty, a former Pittsburgh mayor, in the contest for the Senate seat of retiring GOP Sen. Richard S. Schweiker. Spector carried Philadelphia, a rare feat for a GOP candidate.

The race was between two men on electoral losing streaks. Specter lost Republican primaries in 1976 and 1978. Flaherty was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Senate in 1976 and governor in 1978.

In two House races affected by the FBI's undercover Abscam operation, convicted Rep. Michael (Ozzie) Myers lost a close three-way race to independent Thomas Foglietta, who has said he will become a Democrat, and Democratic Rep. Raymond Lederer held his seat despite his indictment in the bribery scandal. Rhode Island

Carter won Rhode Island, running 11 percentage points ahead of Reagan across the state and as far ahead as 30 points in Providence.

With 84 percent of the vote in, Carter led Reagan 48 to 37 percent, with Anderson taking 14 percent of the vote. Carter's margin slipped during the night, with many rural regions going for Reagan. The president did extremely well in Providence, where at one time he led 61 to 26 percent. With 90 percent of the city's vote counted, Carter led Reagan 57 to 28 percent.

Despite the Democratic win, Democratic Rep. Edwin P. Beard lost in his rematch with Claudine Schneider, a former television talk-show hostess who outspent Beard by 2 to 1. Vermont

The networks projected a strong victory for Republican Gov. Richard A. Snelling, who was seeking a third term. Reagan also appeared to win a clear victory in this corner of New England, where the Carter camp had held out some hope of victory.

In the Senate race, Vermont's first Democratic senator, Patrick J. Leahy, was running slightly behind his well-financed Republican chalenger, Stewart Ledbetter, a former state commissioner of banking and insurance. But the race was too close to call late last night, and Leahy was considered very much in the race by The Washington Post's special correspondent in Vermont.

Republican Rep. John Jeffords apparently won reelection with ease. West Virginia

The three networks all projected a Carter victory in the race for the state's six electoral votes, and Gov. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV won reelection in the state's hard-fought gubernatorial contest.

Rockefeller spent more than $10 million, most of it his own money, in his campaign against Republican Arch Moore, who defeated Rockefeller in his first try for the statehouse in 1972. This year Rockefeller blanketed the state with television commericals produced by New York media man David Garth, who also ran John B. Anderon's media campaign. Rockefeller ads even appeared on Pittsburgh and Washington television stations.

West Virginia was one of the few states where Carter had long been conceded the front-runner. CAPTION: Picture 1, West Virginia Gov. Rockefeller, who spent about $10 million in his bid for reelection, and his wife go to the polls at their home in Charleston.;Picture 2, His opponent, Arch Moore, and his wife share a moment together as they wait for vote tallies. AP; Map, East; Picture 3, Senate candidate Elizabeth Holtzman and her brother meet reporters in New York. AP