Obama surely has some astonishing political skills. But he is also one lucky mother.
He loses the primary against Bobby Rush. If he had won, he probably would have gotten lost in the House of Reps. A Senate run in '04 would seem a little impatient and overly ambitious.
Carol Mosely Braun chooses not to run for Senate. That would have nixed his chances, and he wouldn't have even run. He wins the primary.
His Republican opponent, Jack Ryan implodes with divorce revelations. He is replaced by perennial court jester, Alan Keyes. He trounces him.
He is chosen to give the keynote at the 2004 convention. He would not have risen to prominence without that opportunity.
He has a tight race with Hillary Clinton. This allows him to grow his organization, to become better as a candidate, and to receive lots of free media time. All the unpleasant vetting happens in the spring instead of the fall. In retrospect, that tight race was the best thing that could have happened to him. And it could have gone the other way if he had just scored a couple of extra points in New Hampshire.
And now, in the general he faces someone who's age puts in relief his youthfulness and 'change' message. Moreover, he faces the most desultory Republican campaign in memory.
Obama isn't just good. He's also lucky. It's like a Michael Jordan when he's getting the rolls.