Republican state leaders were told yesterday they should take advantage of their party's newfound status by designing activities to give supporters "cocktail tidbits to drop" and a chance "to touch the purple" -- the color of royalty.

Pollster Gary C. Lawrence told state party chairmen, meeting for the first time since Ronald Reagan's inauguration, that the president has given the country "a new dose of hope," but they should expect a backlash against his budget cuts.

Lawrence said it would up to state and local GOP leaders to counter this by encouraging activities for volunteers, who he said fall into two categories: "huggers" and "spleen-venters."

He suggested that the latter be placed in "watchdog services" to study federal bureaucracies and police their activities. "Huggers," he said, should be encouraged to join more traditional private volunteer organizations to show the party's compassion for the poor.

Lawrence is vice president of Decision Making Information, which did polling for Reagan's campaign and now has a contract to conduct monthly opinion surveys for the Republican National Committee.

He said "no condescension" should be allowed to intrude on "new compassion," which he defined as "'I will help you do it,' and 'I will do it for you.'" He said party leaders should try to promote private volunteerism by giving it "prominence and prestige." "In other words, we're giving them cocktail tidbits to drop," Lawrence said, adding, "Let them touch the purple."

The state chairman were in town for the first of three days of national committee meetings. In contrast to GOP meetings in recent years, yesterday's session was generally upbeat, with Chairman Richard Richards and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) providing glowing reports about the administration's progress. But party chairmen complained about Reagan's patronage system, and gave Richards his first setback as GOP chairman. That came when the state chairmen, presented with resolutions endorsing Richards' well-publicized attacks on independent campaign-funding groups, decided not to get involved in the fight and refused to endorse any such resolution.

In a meeting with White House political chief Lyn Nofziger, the local leaders complained about failure to appoint more party loyalists and women to top jobs. Nofziger said the problems were being overcome.