Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page concludes that the GOP presidential candidates' extreme views on sex explain why that subject has superseded economic recovery as the dominant topic so far this election year.

How has an election year that was supposed to be all about economic recovery suddenly become all about sex? Critics blame the media. They have a point. The media keep reporting what the candidates are saying.

When you have made social issues like abortion, gay marriage and reproductive rights your central issues, you should not be shocked that media cover them. Yet, when you look at the extreme positions into which social conservatives have pushed the Republican Party, it's not hard to see why their candidates would like to change the subject.

That became harder to do as this year's most decisive issue, the sluggish economy, has shown signs of improvement. Promising news like Friday's report that consumer confidence was up for the sixth straight month takes at least some of the steam out of Republican anger over President Barack Obama's handling of the economy.

What's troubling for many Republicans is how social issues of gay rights and reproductive rights have sprung up into the news at a time when public opinion, particularly among independent voters, is moving away from conservative positions on those old culture war issues.

Read Clarence Page's entire column at the Chicago Tribune.

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