President Barack Obama is supported by slightly more than one-third of Louisiana voters and would be easily beaten in the state by Republican contenders Rick Perry or Mitt Romney, according to a new poll released Thursday.

Obama’s approval rating topped out at 37 percent in Louisiana, a drop from the 40 percent support he received in the 2008 presidential election against Republican John McCain. His favorability hit only 17 percent with white voters, but reached 92 percent among black voters in the poll conducted by Washington-based Clarus Research Group.

In head-to-head competition, Romney got 53 percent support against Obama, while Perry got 52 percent support when put against the Democratic president. Against either, Obama was backed by only 37 percent of those surveyed.

“In everything we’re seeing, Louisiana has made a pretty hard move away from the Democratic Party and toward the Republican Party,” said pollster Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. “Obama’s got a tough go in Louisiana. There’s a massive racial divide.”

The poll of 602 likely voters across Louisiana was commissioned by WWL-TV in New Orleans. It was conducted from Oct. 5-7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was paid for by WWL-TV, KLFY in Lafayette and KNOE in Monroe.

Obama’s approval ratings in Louisiana are below his favorability ratings nationally. But Louisiana’s backing of the tea party political movement also is strong. The Clarus poll shows 46 percent of voters surveyed support the tea party, while 30 percent opposed it.

“That’s much higher than it is nationally. The tea party philosophically is certainly a force in the state, and it’s clearly aligned with Republicans,” Faucheux said.

Louisiana’s U.S. senators scored well among those polled, with Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter receiving a 53 percent approval rating and Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu reaching 50 percent.

When Republican voters were questioned about who they supported for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Perry, the Texas governor, was in the lead with 23 percent of the vote. Next was former pizza company executive Herman Cain with 21 percent, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney with 17 percent and the remaining field far behind.

Even though he’s a former Louisiana governor and congressman, Buddy Roemer only received 3 percent support among the field of Republican candidates.

The margin of error for the GOP primary field was plus or minus 5.6 percentage point because it was a smaller sample of voters.

© 2011 The Associated Press