When it comes to politics, women have yet to come a long way, baby.

* Seventy-two candidates are running for governor of their states this year. Two happen to be women.

* Sixty-six persons have been nominated for the U.S. Senate. Three happen to be women.

* Out of 820 major-party House candidates, 55 happen to be women.

"It's no secret that men run America," says Ranny Cooper, executive director of the Women's Campaign Fund.

The WCF, which was founded in 1974, has put about $350,000 into women's campaigns for the 1982 elections.

"We're not seeing a dramatic rise in the number of women in federal or statewide office," she said. "But women are running more professional campaigns and there is a significant increase in women running for state legislatures and local offices. We are building a pool for the future."

In 10 years, the number of women in state legislatures jumped from less than 5 percent to 12 percent and could rise to 16 percent this year. It is from this group, and the growing numbers of women county supervisors, school board members and other local officials that many of 1982's promising female candidates for federal and statewide office have emerged.

In Connecticut, Republican state Sen. Nancy Johnson has an excellent chance of winning an open House seat. In California, Marin County supervisor Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, is a likely winner in the contest for retiring Rep. John Burton's seat.

Former U.S. attorney Roxanne Conlin is running even with her Republican opponent in a bid to become Iowa's first woman governor.

Two women, a conservative and a moderate, are running against each other for Nevada's lone House seat. In Maryland, women are running in six of the eight congressional districts. That includes three incumbents: Democrats Barbara Mikulski and Beverly Byron and Republican Marjorie Holt, who faces a female challenger, former state delegate Patricia Aiken.

Currently, two women serve in the Senate, 21 in the House and none as governor.

The women candidates, by and large, are more interested in the economy, unemployment, nuclear freeze and other general issues than they are in abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and feminist causes. They are more like their male counterparts in qualifications and in agenda than they are different.

"When people think of women candidates, they think of people who champion day care centers and nursing homes," said Karen Kapler, campaign manager for Democrat Lynn Cutler, who is challenging Rep. Cooper Evans (R-Iowa). "That's not true any more. Lynn is someone running for Congress who happens to be a woman. She's been in local government. She can talk about anything from building roads to saving pork plants."

More and more, it is viewed as an advantage to be a woman candidate. Democrat Frank Lautenberg, trailing Rep. Millicent Fenwick by less than 10 points in some polls in the New Jersey Senate race, complains that "even if we were equivalent candidates, she'd have a real leg up on me because she's a woman."

Cooper Evans, who has a distinct advantage as a well-financed incumbent, says, "There's no question that a substantial number of women think it's time to have a congressperson who's a woman. A substantial number of people are going to vote for her on that basis."

Much has been made of the "gender gap," the differences in male and female voting behavior that showed up in 1980 when 54 percent of men but only 47 percent of women voted for Ronald Reagan.

Polls this year show women more likely to vote Democratic than men, in part at least because of their concern about social issues and skepticism of a military buildup prompted by the rhetoric of President Reagan and many conservatives. Almost all Republican Senate candidates are reported to be lagging with women voters, except for Fenwick.

How this will translate in the congressional and statewide elections on Nov. 2 is unpredictable.

However, the Michigan poll this month concluded that former congressman Phillip Ruppe "would have a chance of becoming senator if the 21st Amendment hadn't given the vote to women. Ruppe is in a head-to-head contest with incumbent Donald Riegle among men -- 44 percent to 45 percent, [but there is] a 53 percent to 30 percent split in favor of Riegle among women."

This year has seen a rise in the amount of political action money from women's groups. The National Women's Political Caucus and its state affiliates will contribute about $550,000 to women and men who support women's issues.

The National Organization for Women, with its 220,000 members, has committed $1.4 million to candidates this year, including $375,000 in 112 congressional races. The National Abortion Rights Action League has spent $500,000 on pro-choice contenders this year.

However, feminist groups are discriminating in their endorsements.

The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus supported Rep. Barney Frank (D) over Rep. Margaret Heckler (R), although she is a long-time ERA champion and the most senior woman in Congress. However, she opposes Medicaid funding of abortions.

In Connecticut, NOW supported Nancy Johnson's male opponent.

"She has a very strong women's rights record," a NOW spokeswoman explained. "But he had a perfect record."