Top Republican Barbour: GOP unlikely to take Senate

"Close," he said when asked during CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning when asked about whether the GOP will win control.

When pressed by CNN's Candy Crowley if that meant the GOP would fall short, he added "Means no cigar."

Republicans were bullish on winning Senate control, but controversial comments by candidates in Missouri and Indiana have badly hurt their chances there. Democrats are faring better than expected in a number of other states. 

Barbour made his comment after PBS's Gwen Ifill predicted Democrats have the edge during a panel discussion and Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf predicted unequivocally that Democrats will keep control.

Republicans need to win a net of three seats to retake control if Mitt Romney wins the presidential election, or four if President Obama wins reelection and Vice President Joe Biden remains the tie-breaking vote in the chamber.

Barbour has been helping the GOP outside-group American Crossroads, which has been spending heavily on both the presidential and Senate races.