A recent CBS poll found that 43% of Americans agree with the views of Occupy Wall Street, with only 27% disagreeing. (Other polls have found similar sentiments.) But what do these numbers mean?

Here’s some historical context:

  • In 1959, five years after Brown v. Board of Ed, a 53-37 majority of Americans thought the decision had “caused a lot more trouble than it was worth.”
  • In 1961, Americans believed by a 57-28 margin that civil rights demonstrations were doing more harm than good to the cause of integration.
  • In October 1964, some 57% of Americans thought racial integration was moving “too fast,” and only 18% thought it wasn’t moving fast enough.
  • In 1971, a national poll found only 39% percent of Americans “sympathetic … with efforts of the women’s liberation groups,” with 47% unsympathetic.

That’s right. More Americans support Occupy Wall Street than supported Brown v. Board of Ed in 1959, the civil rights movement in 1961, desegregation in 1964, or feminism in 1971.

Oh, and here’s one more: In 1948, Americans disapproved of “women of any age wearing slacks in public” by a 39-34 margin.

Yep. OWS is more popular today than pants on women was 63 years ago.