“It allows Republicans to be positive, and different from how they are normally perceived,” said Matthew Dowd, a political strategist and the architect of George W. Bush’s 2004 victory. “Republicans are often seen as supporting policies that help a certain class of voters,” Dowd said. “Here, we have policies that provide opportunity for everyone, especially low-income voters.”The "opportunity" in question, of course, is to participate in programs that are not improving educational outcomes, like going to mostly mediocre-to-bad private schools (vouchers aren't sending kids to Andover or Exeter, you know?). And the vouchers aren't enough for the poorest families to afford private school, but the programs weaken the traditional public schools those poor kids remain in by pulling money out of them. Oh, and in some states, vouchers or similar programs direct taxpayer money to schools teaching creationism or expelling gay kids.
Even if minority voters aren’t entirely won over, Dowd said, GOP candidates still benefit from talking up school choice: “It gives the message to moderate white suburban voters that they’re tolerant, they’re expansive — they care.”
But who cares! It's Republicans being all positive and caring about the kids, right? As long as you don't look too closely at which kids and how many of them, or whether it's actually helping them at all. As long as the reporters who write about the programs and the parents who feel their kids are being helped by vouchers and charters (whether or not their kids are actually empirically in a better position) don't notice that Republicans created many of the problems "school choice" supposedly fixes or that it doesn't actually fix those problems, it's Republican public relations gold.