WASHINGTON (AP) _ Alternate party presidential candidates declared a victory of sorts even before the first vote was cast today - relishing their increased exposure in lieu of a win at the ballot box.

''For the first time in our lifetime, independent politics has hit the political map,'' said Madelyn Chapman, spokeswoman for New Alliance Party candidate Lenora Fulani.

''I feel four years from now the Democratic and Republican parties will be called the fringe parties,'' predicted John Hagelin, the Natural Law Party candidate.

But Hagelin, like most of the 20 other candidates on the ballot in some states today, held no illusions of winning even a single electoral vote this time around.

''It would take a miracle,'' conceded the Harvard-educated physicist whose party advocates, among other things, solving some of the nation's problem with transcendental meditation, a relaxation technique popular in the 1970s.

But all relished in their increased exposure in 1992 - talk shows, television ''infomercials,'' even their own debate - brought on mostly by Ross Perot's unprecedented foray into independent politics.

''If we took all the Libertarian presidential campaigns and added them together, they would not compare to the coverage we received this time,'' said Meme King, spokeswoman for the Libertarian Party's Andre Marrou, the only alternate party candidate to duplicate Perot's success in getting on all 50 state ballots.

And some spoke of bigger plans in the immediate future.

''I think for us the victory lies after Nov. 4. ... The question on the table is who wants to get together to form a more broad-based independent political party ... that could win the White House,'' Chapman said.

Many of the candidates' Election Eve activities reflected their realistic ambitions. Fulani, a New York psychologist did a few radio interviews, but otherwise walked door-to-door Monday night greeting voters in a single Brooklyn neighborhood.

Marrou aired a national ad a few times. But rather than urge his election, the ad lamented the lack of news coverage independent candidates get and encouraged voters to watch CNN tonight because it will be giving regular vote totals for Marrou, King said.

''We're not saying don't vote for us. ... But we have realistic ambitions. We are building the next major party, and it does not happen overnight,'' King said.

Political extremist Lyndon LaRouche, making his fifth bid for the White House - his first from prison, where he's serving time on a fraud conviction, took an inexpensive approach - giving interviews from his prison cell.

''It's a terrible handicap,'' spokesman Webster Tarpley said of the jailhouse bid.

Hagelin, meanwhile, was making the most costly Election Eve push.

For the third straight day, he aired a 30-minute infomercial nationwide Monday on a cable network and on select stations in 20 large city markets, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington.

In addition, he ran a two-page ad in USA Today laying out his party's platform of using technology such as sustainable agriculture and energy conservation to solve problems.

Other alternate party candidates appearing on several state ballots:

-Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus policy group, campaigned on an anti-tax crusade. He's on 20 state ballots.

-Earl F. Dodge, whose Prohibition Party advocates outlawing alcohol, is on the ballot in Arkansas, New Mexico and Tennessee.

-Bo Gritz, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and POW/MIA activist, is on 17 state ballots.