But the Republican Party risks losing something by shifting plans at the last minute, Mr. Madden said. “It could rob the party and the convention-goers of a well-organized, seamless experience that also serves as a clarion call for the party faithful heading into the crucial final stages of the general election,” he said.
Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the convention is the trepidation delegates are feeling about attending a crowded gathering. Already, states like Indiana are having difficulty filling both their delegate and alternate spots. Many convention delegates are over 60 and therefore more vulnerable to the virus.
Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence’s home state, has struggled to fill its slots with the party donors and activists who typically compete for the highly coveted positions to represent the state on the convention floor. Instead, people involved in the process said there have been submissions from unknown Republicans, and have expressed concerns that they don’t even know whether or not those people are pro-Trump. That risks upending years of careful planning on the part of the Trump campaign to ensure a smooth coronation-style convention for the president, with no dissent on the floor the way there was four years ago.
Kyle Hupfer, the state chairman in Indiana, said that his message to delegates was that “the R.N.C. and the president are committed to having an excellent program for the delegates and a great delegate experience. We are really adaptable as Hoosiers, and we will be there to support the president and our vice president, Mike Pence, whatever format that takes.”
Some state chairmen insisted that they were not aware of any anxiety on the part of delegates.
“Overwhelmingly, people were still interested in going,” said J.R. Romano, chairman of the Republican Party in Connecticut. “I feel bad for the people of North Carolina; this would have been an economic windfall for any community.”
Mr. Romano said he thought it was overly aggressive for Mr. Cooper to require attendees to wear face masks and practice social distancing. “We’re adults,” he said. “We all know the risks. If someone wants to wear a face mask, they can. If someone doesn’t, they’re taking a risk. I don’t think they had to make this mandatory.”