Incumbent Michael D. Barnes coasted to his third consecutive term in Maryland's 8th Congressional District, handily defeating Republican challenger Elizabeth W. Spencer by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

In Maryland's 2nd District, Clarence Long won an 11th term holding off a surprisingly strong showing by ex-newspaperwoman Helen Bentley.

Long's reelection bid nearly ran aground on the issue of dredging in the Baltimore harbor which Bentley, the former chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, made the focus of her campaign.

Incumbent Roy P. Dyson won his second term in Maryland's sprawling 1st Congressional District, turning back a challenge from Republican C.A. Porter Hopkins, a former state senator.

The contest between Barnes and Spencer was a gloves-on affair that, in the best Montgomery County tradition, seemed characterized by a struggle between the candidates as to who could be the most polite.

In defeat, Spencer was looking forward to attending to housekeeping chores at her family farm in Kentucky. "I have no regrets about the kind of campaign I ran," she said. "I'm not going to dwell on what's happened."

Spencer was never able to draw a sharp distinction between her own moderate views and those of Barnes, who appears ready to fulfill his prediction, made lightly in the enthusiasm of his initial, stunning victory over incumbent Republican Newton I. Steers four years ago, that he could retain the 8th District seat for 20 years or more.

Although Spencer insisted that she was determined to offer a serious challenge to Barnes, many voters apparently believed she had achieved her real goal when she defeated Marian Greenblatt in the GOP primary.

Spencer and Greenblatt had been colleagues on the Montgomery County school board and often were at odds with each other over educational politics. So when Greenblatt announced that she would seek the GOP nomination for Congress, without giving up her seat on the school board, Spencer, in an implicit criticism of Greenblatt's action, resigned from the board and set out to deny Greenblatt the nominaton.

In the sprawling 1st District, Rep. Roy P. Dyson won his second term as he turned back a challenge from Republican C.A. Porter Hopkins, a former state senator. Many said Hopkins actually lost the election during his bitter primary with former congressman Robert Bauman.

Bauman was defeated in 1980 after disclosures about his problems with homosexuality and alcoholism. He started on the comeback trail last spring, but pulled out of the Republican primary in July, charging Hopkins with "scurrilous personal attacks" in the campaign. But Bauman's name remained on the ballot, and on Sept. 14 he came within 1,071 votes of beating Hopkins. Hopkins' campaign never recovered from that close call.

For the second time in the 2nd District, Long, the 73-year-old dean of the Maryland delegation, beat back a strong challenge from Bentley, who stressed the issue of jobs. "People are hurting here and they want to work," Bentley said. "They don't want to draw unemployment. Long's been more worried about foreign aid than jobs."

Fifth District Rep. Steny H. Hoyer posted his first full-term congressional victory, swamping little-known Republican William P. Guthrie. Hoyer was elected in a special election early in 1981 after his predecessor and longtime friend and colleague from Prince George's County, Gladys Noon Spellman, suffered a stroke just before the general election. Spellman won with her usual impressive margin, but when she failed to recover, the House declared her seat vacant. Spellman remains in a semicomatose state in an area nursing home.

In the 6th District, Rep. Beverly B. Byron, who first was elected upon the death of her husband, won a third term, over Roscoe Bartlett. Her newly revised district now includes a big chunk of the lesser populated areas of Montgomery County, along with the four counties of western Maryland where her "boll weevil" brand of Democratic conservatism is popular.

Rep. Marjorie S. Holt, the only Republican in the delegation, was returned by voters in the 4th Congressional District for a sixth term, defeating Democrat Patricia O'Brien Aiken.

The other two House members from the Baltimore area, incumbent Democrats Barbara A. Mikulski and Parren J. Mitchell, had only token opposition.